Volume II, Issue III Autumn 2003

As good a holiday tradition as exists

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Book and Lyrics by Timothy Mason
Music by Mel Marvin
From the book by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel
Directed by Jack O'Brien

Old Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatres complex
Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif.
Through December 31

Those of us living in San Diego are blessed each year with as magical a holiday tradition as any city possesses – the Old Globe's annual production of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

Now in its sixth year, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" is nothing like the leering movie by Ron Howard, which wandered about as far from the innocence of the book as one can.

Instead, the Globe's production hews closely to Dr. Seuss' book in both spirit and storyline. While it's longer than the animated TV classic that airs each year (about 80 minutes), the extra time is filled up not with new subplots like the movie, but with original music by Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason (and, as of last year, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from the TV special).

Molly Ringwald and Jayne Atkinson in Enchanted April
David Brannen as the Grinch, with Ken Page (Old Max) and Rusty Ross (Young Max).
One part of this family favorite that is new this year is the actor playing the Grinch. After five years in the role he originated in San Diego, Guy Paul is spending Christmas elsewhere. Handling the lead role is local actor David Brannen.

Brannen is very good as the Grinch, with a rubbery face and a voice almost as pliable. While comparisons between actors are never really fair, those who have seen previous editions of "Grinch" may miss some of Paul's irreplaceable charisma. Which is no knock on Brannen – in fact, should he keep the role, in five years' time locals may forget that anyone else every played Grinch.

Ken Page is also new in the role of Old Max, the Grinch's dog, now all grown up and serving as narrator. Page and Rusty Ross, who plays Young Max, have as good a rapport as Page's predecessors did with Ross (who's played Young Max each year), and Page may have the best voice yet for the role. He's also got a crustily charming avuncular quality about him that allowed the small ones in the audience to bond with him immediately.

Many of the other cast members are also veterans of previous productions; the costumes and set remain positively Seussian, and it's hard to see how this production could possibly be improved.

It's enough to simply enjoy it, to fall in love with it anew each Christmas.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif.

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