‘The Grinch Musical!’ Review: The Best and Worst of NBC’s Holiday Special — Live Blog

Just over 63 years ago, Theodor Geisel — better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss — wrote and illustrated a holiday-themed children’s book meant to teach kiddos that Christmas isn’t about spending outrageous sums 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.

So, naturally, “The Grinch” has been adapted a billion times over by every money-hungry corporation out there. It only took nine years for a TV version to hit screens, and that’s before the terrifying Jim Carrey/Ron Howard movie started dominating cable channels every December, or Illumination’s 2018 animated movie sat perched and waiting in Netflix queues for over a year, only to disappear December 4.

But fear not Seuss fans. “The Grinch Musical!” is here to offer two hours of fresh holiday entertainment thanks to NBC’s 2020 adaptation of the 2007 stage production. Starring Tony Award nominee Matthew Morrison as the toy-, feast-, and tree-stealing lead, “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical” is available to watch for free Wednesday, December 9 at 8 p.m. ET (though, yes, the attached advertisements will dispiritedly and undoubtedly pry more money from parents’ pockets).

So what can you expect in the latest version? For one, it isn’t a live musical. Unlike recent TV adaptations of “The Little Mermaid,” “Grease,” and more, “The Grinch Musical!” was pre-recorded from London’s Troubadour Theatre over two days. The decision was made to help everyone stay safe, and the cast and crew followed the industry’s pandemic production guidelines throughout. Producers, including Lee Connolly, Simon Friend, Joshua Rosenblum and James Sanna, hope to capture the live feeling nonetheless, and Morrison, who’s also a producer, promised they were only given one take — “maybe like a take and a half” — to capture what you’ll see Wednesday night.

Joining Morrison on stage are Tony Award-winner Denis O’Hare playing Old Max, the Grinch’s loving canine companion, as well as Booboo Stewart (“Descendants 3”) as Young Max. Newcomer Amelia Minto (soon to be seen in “The Lost Girls”) will play Whoville’s favorite child, Cindy-Lou Who, and the musical will feature popular songs like “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas.” Julia Knowles directed the event, working off staging by Max Webster, while Simon Nye adapted the script and Peter Bingemann served as set designer.

Below, starting at 8 p.m. ET, follow along with the IndieWire TV team throughout the airing for an assessment of the best and worst moments as they happen. Post your own thoughts in the comment section, and let us know if the NBC production does justice to Dr. Seuss. [Editor’s note: It should go without saying, but spoilers follow.]

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