There’s a seasonal urgency to this one, based on the 1957 children’s book by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch, of course, is a latter day Ebenezer Scrooge, and the hearts of such creatures don’t warm up very fast. The Grinch can steal all the toys, the holiday edibles and even the indoor trees, but learns that he can’t steal the spirit. Christmas, he finds, comes from the heart, not from the store.
The original Broadway production of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” opened in 2006, with book and lyrics by Timothy Mason and music by Mel Marvin, with additional music and lyrics by Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) himself. You may recall that a film version with Jim Carrey was released in 2000. This recording is based on the Old Globe Theatre production, which is actually being staged through Dec. 28 down in San Diego. It should be noted that original Broadway cast members Patrick Page, as the parched-voiced Grinch, and John Cullum, as Old Max (the dog that wags the tale for us), reprise their roles for this album.
The lively overture calls to mind the sort of retro music that characterizes “Little Shop of Horrors” and other peppy, light-on-their-feet musicals. Although this writer tends to thumb his nose at such offerings, the music herein is varied, the songs polished, and the melodies rather catchy. On the other hand, the Whos of Who-ville have the shrill voices of children, whereas “Whatchamawho” has the sort of stratospheric vocals that some will ascribe to Disney’s “It’s a Small World.” And then there’s Cindy-Lou Who’s “Santa For a Day,” geared to tug at the heartstrings of every Grinch sitting within earshot.
Even seeing us out the door, the CD includes closing tracks titled “Bows” and “Exit Music,” but also “Once In A Year,” a spiffy number pulled from the Broadway show prior to the opening, and a version of “Where Are You, Christmas?” from the motion picture. This isn’t really my cup of tea, and it may not be yours, too, but it’s hard to say “Bah, humbug” to it. The record is well done and, sigh, even enjoyable.