The Best and Worst of NBC’s Holiday Special “The Grinch Musical!”

The Best and Worst of NBC's Holiday Special "The Grinch Musical!"

Just over 63 years ago, Theodor Geisel — better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss — wrote and illustrated a holiday-themed children’s book intended to teach children that Christmas isn’t about spending obscene amounts of money to build a tree-toppling pile of presents; it’s about family, togetherness, and celebrating rebirth at the end of a long year.

The Best and Worst of NBC’s Holiday Special “The Grinch Musical!”

As a result, “The Grinch” has been adapted a billion times by every profit-hungry organisation on the planet. The horrific Jim Carrey/Ron Howard movie started dominating cable networks every December, and Illumination’s 2018 cartoon feature remained sitting and waited in Netflix queues for nearly a year, only to disappear December 4. Fans of Dr. Seuss, though, need not be concerned. Thanks to NBC’s 2020 version of the 2007 stage show, “The Grinch Musical!” will provide two hours of new Christmas fun. “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical,” starring Tony Award nominee Matthew Morrison as the toy-, feast-, and tree-stealing lead, will be available to watch for free on Wednesday, December 9 at 8 p.m. ET (though, yes, the attached advertisements will depressingly and inevitably pry more money from parents’ pockets).

So, what can you look forwards to in the new version? It isn’t a live musical, for starters. “The Grinch Musical!” was pre-recorded over two days from London’s Troubadour Theatre, unlike recent TV versions of “The Little Mermaid,” “Grease,” and other shows. The cast and crew made the decision to keep everyone safe, and they followed the industry’s pandemic production guidelines throughout. Producers such as Lee Connolly, Simon Friend, Joshua Rosenblum, and James Sanna are hoping to recreate the live atmosphere, and Morrison, who is also a producer, said they only had one take — “maybe a take and a half” — to capture what you’ll see on Wednesday night.

Denis O’Hare, who won a Tony Award for his role as Old Max, the Grinch’s devoted canine companion, and Booboo Stewart (“Descendants 3”), who plays Young Max, join Morrison on stage. Cindy-Lou Who, Whoville’s favourite kid, will be played by newcomer Amelia Minto (who will soon be seen in “The Lost Girls”), and the musical will incorporate classic songs including “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas.” Julia Knowles directed the performance, which was based on Max Webster’s staging, with Simon Nye adapting the book and Peter Bingemann serving as set designer. Follow along with the IndieWire TV crew during the broadcast, starting at 8 p.m. ET, for an appraisal of the finest and worst moments as they unfold. Leave your opinions in the comments below, and let us know whether you think the NBC production does Dr. Seuss credit. [Editor’s note: Although it should go without saying, spoilers are included.]

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