One Sad Grinch

New holiday musical leaves at least one patron disappointed

But you had just tried to steal Christmas from the Whos!

I was an asshole! But why can't the Grinch stay the Grinch, albeit a warm and fuzzy Grinch, as opposed to wanting to become a Who? Don't you think that's going to cause all kinds of problems down the road, since the Grinch really isn't a Who at all, but a Grinch?

I get it: it's like forcing children to deny their cultural or ethnic identities in order to "fit in," rather than bringing aspects of their culture to the mix? Instead of our differences making us stronger, we're all shoehorned into thinking the same way about everything?

Exactly. Like Christmas!

How so?

The moral of this story is supposed to be that material possessions don't make Christmas, that Christmas doesn't come from a store. Yet the biggest crowd-pleaser in this show is called "Last Minute Shopping." It shows a bunch of Whos feverishly racing through the shops of Whoville, ranting about how stressed-out they are as the mountains of presents they're buying threaten to crush them. There's a line in there that makes me cringe every time I hear it: "We've got all we need/We've got to get more." I half expected to see the Whos trample one another to death while racing to get to the Thneed outlet.

It does seem to send mixed signals to impressionable youngsters.

And how.

So, returning to my first question, I guess it's safe to say that you don't think this new musical adaptation is true to the spirit of the Grinch behind the myth?

[Grinch drums his fingertips on the table, makes a grotesque grimace, and releases a deep, plaintive sigh. A solitary teardrop falls from his eye as his handlers enter the room, slip him a pill, and wheel him off to a lunch-time meeting with representatives from Fox, Wal-Mart and McDonald's concerning a planned Grinch sitcom/Grinch Barbie/Grinch burger corporate tie-in]

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Old Globe Theatre, Balboa Park, San Diego, (619) 239-2255. Tues., 8 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs., 11 a.m. & 8 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Through Jan. 3. $11.50-$39.

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