Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – until 1 December 2019
Reviewed by Hannah Plumb
How the Grinch Stole Christmas the Musical is the UK premiere of the hit Broadway musical based on Dr Seuss’ classic rhyming children’s book. The book has been adapted into two films, one animated, one the greatest film that has ever been made (in my opinion), a TV movie and now this!
The musical takes on a different perspective than it’s previous adaptations, following the story of Max, the Grinch’s dog, who guides the audience through the tale. ‘Old Max’ played by Steve Fortune reflects on that remarkable Christmas when he was but a pup and looks over ‘Young Max’ played by X-Factors Matt Terry. Fortune narrates the majority of the action and performs Seuss’ trademark rhyming couplets with a theatrical flourish. Unfortunately, Terry as Young Max fails to keep up with the rest of the cast and looks severely out of his depth in this fast-paced, whirlwind of a show.
The star of the show, the mean one himself, The Grinch, is played by Edward Baker-Duly. Duly balances his performance with a mix of Carrey-Esque delivery while putting his own spin on the character. His comic timing and physical comedy are enjoyable to watch, however, his interpretation of the character feels well routed in reality which means we miss the strange creature The Grinch is. We instead seem to see him as a flawed person rather than the wonderfully weird and mythical being he was written as.
Overall, this was a slightly problematic production. The colourful but at times overwhelming musical numbers with energy and exuberance, I can’t help feeling like this production missed the mark. The choreography was excellent and the costumes and set were appropriately storybook however this version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas the Musical left you feeling like you didn’t quite get what you asked for.