This musical adaptation of Dr Seuss’ festive classic wasn’t exactly greeted with Christmas cheer when it transferred to Broadway in 2006. But multiple remountings have helped hone it and Matt August’s slick and handsome touring production brings out the best of what is a slight and simple tale.
Edward Baker-Duly’s performance as the titular grump owes a lot to Jim Carrey’s big-screen incarnation. But he’s a confident comic presence, making his enjoyably grouchy Grinch a hit with the kids and his Scrooge-like redemption believable. Griff Rhys Jones is similarly assured as the older version of dog Max, anchoring the production with his welcoming, avuncular narration.
Timothy Mason’s book lightly extends Seuss’ slim story without adding too much unnecessary detail, striking the right balance between emotion and sentimentality.
Mason and Mel Marvin’s songs are a touch repetitive and it’s telling that the best number, You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch – written for a 1966 cartoon with lyrics by Seuss himself – predates this show.
But Michael Starobin’s lush orchestrations give the score an expansive, MGM musical-like feel. And a 12-piece onstage orchestra combines with John Lee Beatty’s inventive, sumptuous picture-book set and excellent wig, make-up and costume work to give the production a high-quality sheen.