What better way to start the holiday season than to spend an evening with a tall grouchy green guy who will surely steal your heart?
So head to Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical when it makes its Philadelphia premiere from Wednesday, Dec. 19-Saturday, Dec. 29 at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater.
It will be a delightful time with Cindy Lou Who, her family, the rest of the adorable residents of Whoville, Max the dog, and of course, The Grinch.
The Grinch discovers there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for in this holiday classic. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the holiday-loving Who’s.
Hailed by The New York Times as “100 times better than any bedtime story,” this classic holiday musical will certainly enchant adults and children alike!
Audiences will discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale as it comes to life on stage. Featuring the hit songs “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas.”
“The holidays would not be complete without a visit from the mean old Grinch and those Who’s from Whoville,” said Anne Ewers, President, and CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
“Not only is this a show the entire family can enjoy during this season of togetherness,” she said, “but we are excited to be presenting our first sensory-friendly performance during this run, an invitation for all arts-lovers to experience this holiday classic in an inclusive manner.”
A first-ever sensory-friendly performance for the Broadway Philadelphia series will be held on Saturday, Dec 22, at 11 a.m. sponsored by Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware.
In partnership with ArtReach, this presentation embraces individuals with sensory issues, communication differences and those on the autism spectrum by creating a safe and inclusive environment.
Theater adjustments include designated quiet areas, as well as relaxed house rules, allowing individuals to move around during the performance. Guests are unrestricted in their talking and reacting, and outside sensory-friendly stress relief devices are welcome.
Sensory-friendly kits are available to all guests on the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus and can be reserved on a first come, first serve basis by contacting Patron Services at 215-893-1999. These kits are equipped with noise-canceling headphones, weighted bean bags, and fidget toys.
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical features magnificent sets designed by John Lee Beatty and costumes designed by Robert Morgan, inspired by Dr. Seuss’ charming original book. Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason’s music and book breathe new life into this timeless story.
The current production is directed by Matt August and choreographed by Bob Richard, based on the original choreography by John DeLuca and originally created by three-time Tony Award-winning director, Jack O’Brien.
The Grinch broke box office records for two consecutive years on Broadway during its holiday engagements at the St. James and Hilton theaters.
More than 2.1 million theater-goers across America have been delighted by this heart-warming holiday musical, which is considered to be a total delight for children and adults alike.
“This is a family show and I look out in the audience and see several generations sharing this charming classic story,” he says, “it really feels like the holidays.”
The following is an exclusive interview with Grinch star Philip Huffman about The Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, family, holidays and more.
When did you join this production?
PHILIP HUFFMAN: This my third year with The Grinch, and our first time in Philadelphia, so the entire cast is extremely excited to be here for two weeks.
Talk about the impact of this story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
I’m the youngest of four children in the family. I grew up with the original television cartoon version and also the book. I fell in love with the character the first moment I saw him in the pages of the book and on the screen. He is easy to relate to. Even though we don’t like to admit it, at one time or another, everyone feels isolated and alone and the odd one out; that’s what the character embodies through the pages of Dr. Seuss.
To me it seems like a perfect holiday outing, is that why you think families should come to the show together?
It is a family show that is great for all ages. The story transcends the generations. My grandparents grew up with the books, my parents fell in love with the cartoon and continued to pass it on to the rest of us. So, it is truly an original shared experience. No matter what version we are talking about the story has re-inspired all of us to share the original book The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
You really love this charming tale.
Yes. There is a simplicity to the story and a core meaning of togetherness and inclusion and about not judging people without having information on them. This is something to yearn for and to understand.
Where is your home base?
I have been living in New York for the past 14 years.
Will your family and friends from around the country see you in the show?
Yes, they usually pop in any time I am in a city close enough for them to fly in and watch the show.
What are your own Christmas traditions?
I’ve been traveling for my entire career, so the past 10 holiday seasons I’ve been in Europe or on tour. But what I love about this show is seeing so many people come back to the same production. They ask their other jobs for the time off to be in this production. So we have been creating this Seuss family over the years and it continues year after year. I enjoy seeing them and working with them.
Why did you become a stage actor?
I’ve always wanted to be an actor, but I didn’t really go for it until I was in college. I did television commercials and voice-overs. When I did perform, I just felt like I was home. I felt like it was something I was meant to do and I am very passionate about my work that I perform and that I produce.
Were your parents supportive of your career choice?
They would have been supportive of no matter what I did. I had my production company for three years in L.A. and decided to go back to acting and moved back to New York. They were always supportive.
Yes. In any production, you make good friends. In this production, you end up hoping to be asked back to certain cities and play the characters again. We keep up with cast and crew – all wonderful loving people. It’s important that the cast and crew know that this is a loving and caring environment and that the Dr. Seuss Grinch Family is just that – a family that stays in touch.
You have followed the careers of some of the young actors in your show.
We are so proud of the actresses who previously played Cindy Lou Who, are currently on Broadway. One plays the young Anastasia, a few are in School of Rock, one just finished a national tour of Les Miserables. There are talented children, who love to come back to join this production of The Grinch.
Is it different to perform with children as opposed to adults?
It’s a larger responsibility. When I work with children as an adult I feel that it’s my responsibility that they have an enjoyable time and have fond memories of the production, yet at the same time are professionals and they are doing something that is important and for other people to enjoy.
What do you think it means for the young actors?
Getting to be the lead in a national tour for this particular show at a young age is a big deal. Our Cindy Lou is eight, at that age the development you are having to accept and love one around you and not fear the unknown is such a wonderful lesson to be part of every single day.
Young children come in costume as the Grinch. I have done a lot of media events where we go to children’s hospitals as The Grinch, and that is so rewarding for them to be in awe of the character and the costume. Sometimes they are a little frightened because it is a large character. Even if they don’t know the story, they are usually curious and want to know what the character is all about. They ask, ‘Who is the Grinch?’ ‘Who is his family?’ I like there is a big life lesson — that if even a timid child has a little interest and is a little brave about stepping outside your own insecurities – you will fall in love with a character like the Grinch; he becomes just like everyone else just another person to care about.
Have you seen the new Universal animated movie The Grinch?
Yes, it is a different version than the original story. There are new characters that I found interesting. I do tend to look at the other versions and I am curious why they feel they need to have such a traumatic backstory – not just the fact that over the years he hates loud noises. I believe the book is 27 pages, so to make a movie, of course, you want to add more. There were some extremely funny parts to it and I found it to be charming.
They definitely tweaked the story.
They did have the Grinch become a larger part of the community – accepting him as a best friend. I find that challenging. Find out early on in the new version that he already longs to be a part of Christmas.
But there are similarities to the stage show.
Yes. I think it’s a pretty similar concept and idea in what they are trying to teach – inclusion and understanding of others. The stage version is more traditional to the book itself as if it’s being told through the eyes of the who’s and how the Grinch sees himself – isolated and alone. We all know one grumpy person who doesn’t like the holidays. All the versions re-inspire people to want to go back to the original book or purchase the book and share it with their children.
So why should people come and see this show?
Basically, if they love Seuss and the world of Seuss I believe that we have done a beautiful job of capturing that world. It is a fun, entertaining show and it will touch your heart. I haven’t met one person who hasn’t enjoyed it yet.
What else do you want to say about this?
There is something extremely unique and special about the show. The older ones in the crowd have the largest smiles when the Grinch first comes out. In the front row, you see the anticipation for the story – such a loving story that affected them in their own way. It’s nice to see an entire family of multiple generations sitting next to each other and all of them enjoying it. Sometimes the youngest ones initially are a little scared of the Grinch. The character steps out and the five or six-year-olds don’t know who this character is, but at the end of it, they learned he is a grumpy Grinch at times, but at the end, he wants to be part of a community, even if he doesn’t know that. It’s really something innate in all of us, we all want to be accepted and included in a community of our own.
For additional information on the production, please visit www.GrinchMusical.com
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