About the show
The magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale comes to life when the Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” discovers that there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for. With ever-loyal Max the Dog narrating the tale, children and adults alike can lose themselves in Seussian whimsy and holiday magic.
The Grinch lives in seclusion on snowy Mount Crumpit, overlooking the sunny village of Whoville. The green, furry, grouchy creature detests the holiday season, dreading the noise that comes from the cheerful town. He devises a destructive plan to sabotage the Whovian Christmas by disguising himself as Santa Claus and stealing all of the Whos’ presents and decorations. He even manages to steal a Christmas tree. In one home, two-year-old Cindy Lou Who briefly interrupts him. In a humanizing moment, he gets her a glass of water and takes her back to her room before he finishes stealing things. Though he successfully rids Whoville of anything related to the holiday season, the Whos’ response to his plot highlights the true meaning of Christmas.
Theodore Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, first published How the Grinch Stole Christmas! in 1957, after the successful reception of his book The Cat in the Hat.
Geisel later lamented in a Redbook interview that he, himself, was the inspiration for the Grinch. “I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noticed a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror… So, I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that I’d obviously lost.”
Usually taking months to complete a piece, he completed it in a few weeks – with the exception of the ending. According to Seuss, “I got hung up on getting the Grinch out of that mess…I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that.”
The story debuted in both a book version and in an issue of Redbook in December 1957. Critics and audiences responded favorably, with the critic from The Saturday Review of Literature stating, “The inimitable Dr. Seuss has brought off a fresh triumph in his new picture book…The verse is as lively and the pages are as bright and colorful as anyone could wish.”
Born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Geisel published 46 children’s books characterized by imaginative characters and creative rhymes. Often used as a building block for early childhood literacy, his books emphasize simple words and repeating sounds. The Cat in the Hat, for example, only uses 236 different words. In 1997, The National Education Council established Read Across America day to fall on the school day closest to March 2, Geisel’s birthday. His works have spawned numerous adaptations, including 11 television specials, four full-length feature films, a Broadway musical, and four television series.
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
When the television special premiered in 1966, it included the iconic song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” With lyrics by Dr. Seuss, music by Albert Hague, and vocals by Thurl Ravenscroft (also the voice of Tony the Tiger), the six-verse song uses increasingly creative phrases like, “your heart is full of unwashed socks,” and “you have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile,” to describe the foul Grinch.
Though Boris Karloff served as narrator and voice of the Grinch, he could not sing. Ravenscroft sang, but because of an oversight went unattributed in the closing credits of the special. Once Seuss became aware of the oversight, he called Ravenscroft immediately to profusely apologize and wrote letters to columnists nationwide to accurately credit the song.
The musical production of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! premiered with the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company in 1994, after making special arrangements with the Seuss estate for adaptation and performance. Mel Marvin and Albert Hague composed the score, with lyrics by Timothy Mason and Dr. Seuss. The Minneapolis show played to sold-out houses again in 1995 and 1998. The Grinch also spread to San Diego, where it’s been performed at The Old Globe every Christmas since 1998.
In 2006, the show moved to Broadway, where it opened at the Foxwoods Theater in November for the Christmas season. Being the first Broadway musical to offer twelve performances a week, by the first week of December the musical topped the Broadway Box Office grosses, putting an end to Wicked’s 100-week streak as the highest grossing show.