Q & A with Linda Talcott Lee, Choreographer of Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Posted on December 13, 2023
We sat down with the Choreographer of Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, Linda Talcott Lee, and asked some questions about The Grinch, her career, and teaching—enjoy!
CTC: What has been your favorite part of collaborating with Peter Brosius and Reed Sigmund on The Grinch?
LTL: Peter Brosius has made me a better choreographer by consistently urging me to think out to the box. The art of brainstorming (no idea is a bad idea) has freed me from judging my own ideas and propelled me into new and creative directions. Peter appreciates every idea in the room and is truly one of the best collaborators that I have been honored to work with. He is a cheerleader for every actor and creative person in the room. I have never felt more supported and empowered. Reed Sigmund is a comic genius. I have learned to just give the nucleus of an idea to him and he will run with it, turning that idea into something much grander, much more original and much more funny than I could have ever imagined. I have seen him embrace many roles, each one fully developed and unique. Also, he is an incredibly nice and humble guy.
CTC: How does the choreography in this show propel the story forward? What does it reveal about the characters?
LTL: The choreography/physicality of the actors reveals their inner selves. I have given the Whos, who are sweet, kind and compassionate, a movement form that is stylistically simple, upright and shaped like a still photo. The Grinch on the other hand, has been given movement that is gnarly, rounded and curved, not unlike that of a vulture. These physicalities let the audience know without words the essence of the characters presented before them. Regarding moving the story forward, the depiction of the Who children in Watchamawho, helps the audience understand what makes the Grinch so terribly unhappy with these seemingly wonderful children. Also, the shift in physicality that happens from the gnarly, rounded, vulture -like Grinch to the Grinch whose heart has grown three helps the audience to see his total and complete transformation.
CTC: You’ve performed on Broadway in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, The Goodbye Girl, Beauty and the Beast and Seussical. What are a few of your favorite Broadway memories?
LTL: I have too many to speak about in this forum, but perhaps one that stands out in my memory is the unique experience of being in the original cast of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. There were 64 cast members, found across the entire United States as well as other parts of the world. 6 months of rehearsals. Working with Jerome Robbins himself. The parade of original composers and cast members from his shows that came to help out in rehearsal: Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Comden and Green… an endless stream of Broadway celebrities. Jason Alexander, who has become one of my best friends. Amazing.
CTC: What (and who) are your biggest inspirations as a choreographer?
LTL: Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett
CTC: What do you love about the musical theatre scene in the Twin Cities?
LTL: The musical theatre scene in the Twin Cities is rich and culturally diverse. There is literally something for everyone, from avant garde to Shakespeare and everything in between. It is a great place for actors and creatives alike to thrive. The community is also quite tightly knit and welcoming.
CTC: You teach at the University of Minnesota. What is your #1 piece of advice to dance students?
LTL: Take all forms of dance, but especially ballet. I feel that ballet teaches the proper carriage and placement of the body, work ethic, and technique that can carry into other disciplines of dance. That said, learning as many forms of dance as possible gives the dancer the best opportunity to work as a performer and/or as a choreographer.
CTC: What would you say is the Grinch’s favorite genre of dance?
LTL: His scowly prance while he is traipsing through Whoville terrifying everyone.
CTC: You received an Emmy Award for your choreographic work in The Comedy Hall of Fame with Jason Alexander. Where do keep your Emmy?
LTL: On my fireplace mantel piece.