November 26, 2008
By Pete Salisbury
Second graders from Imperial Beach Oneonta Elementary School were treated to the holiday classic “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” courtesy of The Grinch Children’s Initiatives as The Old Globe Theatre presents its annual holiday production now in its 11th year.
The Grinch Initiatives is part of the Old Globes education and outreach programs that captures the spirit of the season and the production by giving back to the community. Designed to reach underserved families and children throughout San Diego County, the Grinch Free Tickets Program allows approximately 4,000 students to see this delightful holiday show.
The Old Globe was given the rights to produce Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! as a gift from Audrey Geisel honoring her late husband, Theodor ‘Dr. Seuss’ Geisel. Her intention was that it be a holiday gift to all of the people of San Diego, particularly children.
Arriving at Balboa Park after a short bus ride the students from Mrs. Uribe’s, Mrs. Palmers, Mrs. Mora’s and Mrs. Miller’s second grade classes took the short walk towards The Old Globe Theatre when one student shouted that he saw the Grinch peeking out a window at him. Soon the children’s eyes were darting everywhere trying to spy this green phantom. Lining the path outside The Old Globe are larger then life Seuss-like cut-outs which leads to a towering Christmas tree obviously decorated by the residents of Whosville and it is here where school classes from around San Diego County stop to take their group pictures.
Seven year old Leslye Teran from Mrs. Uribie’s class knew what the play was all about “The Grinch” she whispered as she sat down in the 600 seat theatre “doesn’t like Christmas. He’s mean!” her classmate Jackeline Gonzalez described the Grinch with a little terror in her voice “He’s green with spiky hair!” They both were excited hoping the rumor that it would snow during the show would come true.
The audience consisting entirely of San Diego County elementary school-age children and their chaperones were treated to the full production, paying customers or not the children were presented with a Broadway worthy performance.
The Grinch played convincingly by Kevin Bailey had the children alert to his every appearance, whether it was just his furry three fingered hand or his kicking feet protruding from a Who-house chimney, to his menacing slide down the stage wall or his mad dash up the theatre aisle.
The “I Hate Christmas Eve” musical number had them jumping in their seats as on stage the Little Whos stomped, banged, sang and created such a calamity that one might of offered some sympathy to the old Grinch unused to such doings. Danny Who, played by Benjamin Shaffer got the boys in the audiences’ attention as he skated about the stage creating mayhem on his ‘Heely’ skate shoes; the boys probably wishing that Santa would bring them a pair for Christmas.
At the finale the children learned that the snow rumor was true as soap suds drifted down like snow from the ceiling.
Following the musical the children ate their sack lunches in a grassy area in the park and between bites of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pizza lunchables the children expressed their thoughts about the musical. Joel Torres said “When it started I thought it was going to be scary but it wasn’t”. Jason Capron gushed “It was so awesome.No it was super duper awesome.” Sean Rhoades admitted “I couldn’t even close my eyes.”
Everyone finally agreed the show was “super duper awesome!”
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” plays at The Old Globe theatre in Balboa Park now through December 28, 2008. Phone (619) 234-5623.