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Local kids and new twists at this year’s ‘Grinch’

The Grinch has been stealing the hearts of local children for the past decade, thanks to the generosity of La Jolla philanthropist Audrey Geisel.

Geisel (aka Mrs. Seuss) gave the Old Globe the rights to “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” - one of the most beloved stories Dr. Seuss ever wrote - and it has been a holiday tradition at the Globe for the past decade.

This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this delightful holiday show, the production will feature three new songs, expanded dance sections, a re-designed costume for the Grinch, and a number of other exciting revisions.

As usual, La Jolla kids will be part of the production. Ian Brininstool of Bird Rock, a sixth-grader at the Muirlands Middle School, will play Danny Who. Samantha Littleford of University City, a sixth grader at High Tech Middle School in Point Loma, will play little Annie Who. The two youngsters will be among the five children on stage for alternate performances of the popular Christmas show.

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Samantha Littleford attends a charter school and has been very involved in a lot of theater. Acting is really child’s play to the 11-year-old. So what does it mean to Samantha to be part of the Old Globe’s highly professional “How The Grinch Stole Christmas?”

“It’s amazing,” she said. “When I found out I got in, I was ecstatic. I take singing lessons, and I did piano, which I want to take up again. But acting is what I really want to do with my life, and I hope it is. It’s so much fun, it doesn’t feel like work.”

“The Grinch” opens on Nov. 25 and will run through Dec. 30. This year, the Globe will continue its Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, a new tradition instituted last year. The ceremony is slated for 6 p.m. on Nov. 25, just before the opening performance.

This family event will feature a special live performance by members of the “Grinch” cast and a delightful holiday snowfall on the Globe Plaza.

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“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has already played to 350,000 children and adults over the years.

“We thank Audrey Geisel for her generous support of this production, which has become a timeless holiday classic in the San Diego community,” Old Globe Executive Director Louis Spisto said. “Those who’ve loved the Grinch in previous years will love it even more this year, and those who haven’t experienced this classic tale live on stage, now is the time!”

With an extended run in the beautiful Main Stage of the Old Globe, there’s plenty of time to see this production. In addition to talented kids both La Jollan and otherwise, the adults in the cast are all top-notch professionals. Eileen Bowman (Grandma Who) has been a fixture in San Diego theater since she was a child herself. Melinda Gilb and Steve Gunderson (Mama and Papa Who) have carved out impressive careers and the rest of the ensemble rates high praise as well.

The lively music by Mel Marvin, the book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, and Jack O’Brien’s savvy direction add up to one of the most entertaining Christmas treats in town. Watching local youngsters perform alongside veteran actors is just frosting on the cake.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” even made it to New York last year, where it proved just as big a hit and played to sold-out audiences. Another production of “The Grinch” opened at Broadway’s St. James Theater on Nov. 1, where it will remain through Jan. 8 of next year.

You can get tickets for the Globe show and the Grinch Family Experience by calling (619) 23-GLOBE.


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