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THEATER REVIEW: "Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

Uh-oh. It’s getting cooler, and like a bad penny he’s turned up again, that nasty wasty old Grinch with a heart “two sizes too small,” a rancid seaweed-look outfit, a perpetual scowl and a special hatred for Christmas and those Whos down in Whoville.

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is in its 18th incarnation through Dec. 26 at the Old Globe Theatre. James Vásquez directs and stages the choreography, as he has since 2003.

After threatening to confiscate audience cell phones, the lights fade to Old Max (Steve Gunderson, excellent as always), the Grinch’s faithful old canine pal, who wants to see that meanie, their cold home cave and Whoville one more time before he leaves for good.

This year the Grinch is played with a suitably bad attitude by “Memphis” veteran J. Bernard Calloway (both at La Jolla Playhouse and on Broadway). Here, on frigid Mt. Crumpit, he routinely terrorizes his dog Young Max (played winningly by Blake Segal).

The Grinch hates Christmas so much he wants to prevent it from coming, so he concocts a terrible plan to go down to Whoville and steal all the trappings of Christmas. So – in the crowning blow for Max – he straps an antler on Max’s head and pretends he’s a reindeer.

In Whoville, he tells Mama Who (the wondrous Bets Malone) he’s from “Whoston” and pretends to have festive feelings, all the while plotting you-know-what.

But he isn’t planning on Mikee Castillo’s irresistible Cindy-Lou Who, who manages to get the old meanie to soften up nicely.

With original music by Mel Marvin, book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, this Dr. Seuss-based show has been a local tradition for nearly 20 years, and with good reason. It’s a positive story with funny and relatable (though goofy) characters, made even better by fine acting, songs and choreography.

And I can almost guarantee you will walk out with a smile on your face. What more can you ask?

The details

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” plays through December 26, 2015 on The Old Globe’s Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park.

Tuesday through Friday at 7 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 11, 2 and 5 pm.

Tickets: (619) 234-5623 or theoldglobe.org

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.