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Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Info
  • Performance Description
  • Plot Synopsis
  • Content Advisories
  • Curriculum Connections
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Approximate run time: 1 hour 50 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission
Run time and other details are subject to change during rehearsal process.

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Based on the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
Book and lyrics by Timothy Mason
Music by Mel Marvin
Directed by Peter C. Brosius
Choreographer Linda Talcott Lee
A Children’s Theatre Company Original Production
Best enjoyed by everyone

Whoville is experiencing a seemingly unstoppable crime wave—and who, oh who will save Christmas? CTC’s all-time audience favorite musical brings alive the songs, the story and the Seuss in mega-doses of spirited storytelling and fanciful rhymes. Come boo the most loathed Christmas villain—and woo-hoo! for a beloved holiday tradition guaranteed to grow anyone’s heart three sizes.

Click here for the Sensory Guide to Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Performance Description

Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a musical performed by a large cast of adults and student actors with a live orchestra. Set, costumes, and props are elaborate. This production was created by CTC’s new play development lab in collaboration with the Dr. Seuss Estate. It features holiday songs and differs from various movie adaptations.

This production takes place on the United Health Group Stage and seats up to 745 people.

Approximate run time: 2 hours including intermission
Run time and other details are subject to change during rehearsal process.

Plot Synopsis
Be warned: This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers.

We start with carolers singing as the mouth to a cave is revealed.  Old Max the dog enters, suitcase in paw, reflecting that this cave was once the home that he shared with the Grinch. The scene changes to the past with Whos singing and preparing for the Christmas Holiday. Shift to the cave, Young Max happily observes aloud that “it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.” The Grinch emerges and menacingly announces that he hates Christmas because his heart is two sizes too small. We shift to Cindy Lou Who who has completed making gifts for her family as well as something for the Grinch. She asks her family about the Grinch. While Cindy Lou wonders about him, The Grinch is imagining what Christmas morning will be like and his cave fills with nightmarish visions of opening presents and feasting. In song he explains that Christmas is annoying, loud, saccharine, and inauthentic. Meanwhile the Who’s continue to sing carols and about gifts and giving until the Grinch has a big idea – he will stop Christmas himself! Max would like to warn the Whos, but the Grinch ties him up. Back in Whoville, the Whos are shopping for their final gifts. They hustle and bustle happily in and out of shops through the snow until Cindy Lou shrieks and points at…the Grinch is right there in the middle of Whoville. The whos tentatively introduce themselves to him and even invite him to join them for Christmas in the morning. The Grinch answers appears overly enthusiastic to the discomfort of all. When he meets Cindy Lou she is too nervous to say her name, but her family insists. She introduces herself and the Grinch asks what she would like as a gift. She says she is hoping for a red rocking horse. The Grinch menacingly wishes her the best, the takes his leave to do his own shopping. He buys a red jacket and bunting and elastic and wool and returns to his cave. Once there, the Grinch crafts himself a Santa Claus costume as puts reindeer antlers on Max. The Grinch sings a song about he is the only one of his kind and he claims to be happy as a friendless loner. The Grinch ties Max to a sleigh, pack it with empty bags, cracks a whip at Max, and they take off down to Whoville. Down at the bottom of the mountain, Grandma, Grandpa, and Mama Who are place gifts around the tree. Grandpa Who, hard of hearing, keeps mishearing what the others say. The Whos sing about all the preparation for Christmas – the food, the gifts, the decorations. They sing about how happy the children will be. The Whos go to bed, the children sleeping by the fireplace and tree. From above the Who house, we hear the Grinch and Max banging and clanging. Suddenly, Max falls from the chimney into the fireplace, quickly followed by the Grinch. As the Grinch surveils all there is to take, Max begs him not to take their food, but the Grinch gleefully replies that he will take it all. He begins to stuff all the gifts, decoration, and food into his bags and as he is dragging the tree to the fireplace, Cindy Lou appears, mistaking the Grinch for Santa Claus, and asks why he is taking the tree. The Grinch thinks quickly and lies saying he is taking it back to his workshop to fix the lights. Cindy Lou thinks this is a fine answer and simply requests he have it back for the morning. Trying to get her to go away, the Grinch asks why she is not in bed. Cindy Lou begins to cry and throws herself on the Grinch for a hug explaining that she had a bad dream. She asks if he might stay and keep her company. The Grinch explains that, as Santa Claus, he has other homes to visit. Cindy Lou says she understands and assumes he’ll then be returning home to his friends and family. The Grinch says that no, Santa always spends Christmas alone. Cindy Lou is shocked by this and sings to him about belonging. She sings that regardless of where he is, she will always be thinking of him and the he belongs with her on Christmas. Something begins to change inside the Grinch and at the end of the song he fixes the light on the tree and returns it to its spot in the room. As Cindy Lou begins to return to bed, the Grinch tenderly asks he what her nightmare was about. She, feeling emboldened, proclaims it was about “that nasty old Grinch!” The Grinch immediately toughens and after Cindy Lou has let, tears the lights off the tree. The scene shifts to the next day and the Whos home is completely empty except a single log on the fire. Just then, the arm of the Grinch reaches down and snags the log leaving nothing. The scene changes to the morning as the Whos wake up on Christmas morning. The Whos explore their empty home and Cindy Lou explains that it was a “sort of a Santy Claus.” Then she tells her family that he was very lonely with no family, no friends, and no gifts. We transition to the Grinch climbing to the top of the mountain in the sleigh with Max. The Grinch is excited to hear the unhappy Whos as they wake up to their ruined Christmas. But as they sit and listen, the Whos begin singing…merrily?! The Grinch is perplexed – he took Christmas away. How could they celebrate without their stuff? The Grinch wonders if Christmas “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…Means a little bit more?” Max comforts the Grinch by explaining that as he is one of a kind, he is special. Cindy Lou reprises her song about remembering him and the Grinch is struck that although he took he Christmas, she is still thinking of him. The Grinch begins to think that perhaps being alone is missing out and he is beginning to like the Whos – so much, in fact, it hurts. And just then his heart grows three sizes. The Grinch tells Max he is wonderful, kisses him, and announces that he’ll take all the Who stuff back. The sleigh, teetering on the edge of the mountain, begins to slip over the edge just as Max and the Grinch jump in. Old Max, the narrator returns to the mouth of the cave. Packs up his suitcase and leaves the stage. Meanwhile, Who carols fill the air. The Grinch arrives in his sleigh and the Whos stand back, unsure. The Grinch, after several attempts, succeeds in wishing the Whos a Merry Christmas. All applaud and cheer. The Grinch hands out gifts to the Who from his sleigh. As he hands Cindy Lou a red rocking horse, she tells him that although the gifts are nice, the he was the most important thing missing from Christmas. Cindy Lou and the Grinch sing together about how they will always be in one another’s heart.

Content Advisories: (subject to change as the production goes into rehearsal)

Language: 1 out of 5 
Silly and made up language in the style of Dr. Seuss

Themes and Situations: 1 out of 5 
The Grinch is alone and isolated.

Violence & Scariness: 2 out of 5 
The Grinch can be scary and intimidating. He steals everything right before Christmas morning. Max (the dog) is pushed around by the Grinch and gets dragged by his tail. Gifts are broken.

Sensory Advisories: 2 out of 5 
The Grinch is a musical. There will be singing and laughing. There is a loud bang. Fog, dry ice, and haze will be used. The Grinch comes into the audience. 

Potentially Anxious Moments: 1 out of 5 
The Grinch is mean to the Who’s. Max (the dog) is pushed and dragged by the Grinch. 

Curriculum Connections     Educator Resources and References















Curriculum Connections




Metaphor & Simile


Origins of Christmas Tradition

Persuasive Essay


















Minnesota State Benchmarks




Speaking & Listening





Artistic Foundations
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1, Benchmark 2, Benchmark 3.2

Artistic Process: Create or Make
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1

Artistic Process: Perform or Present
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1

Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Student Matinee Pricing Guide

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