Pink was everywhere. A pink Christmas tree sat atop the head of an Old Globe usher, who was seating rather pink people in the first few rows of red seats. Costumes were drenched in coats of pink stripes, circles, dots, zigzags and even solid prints.
Filtered pink lighting reflected pinkishly upon the mushroom-capped houses in the land of Who-ville. The stage curtain... was red.
It was enough to gag a reindeer.
There was only one strong enough and green enough to protect us bah-humbuggers from such sycophantic togetherness. Thank badness for the mossy Grinch, he with those menacing, radioactive, jaundice-yellow eyes.
The Grinch made his entrance, a complete monster among the lollipop-coated denizens of Who-ville. In the midst of such unbearable cheer, I wanted him to be the lean, mean, green machine that dwells in a mountainous cave-slum. I wanted him to create Christmas havoc for all those living below him in their saccharine-filled air.
I wanted the evil he could bring. I needed his evil.
For I had endured cheer, and cheer needed a good ass-whoopin'.
To open the night, Grinch's lap dog, Old Max (Ken Page), introduced us, in a syrupy rich baritone, to the Yule tale of long ago. A sentimental rendition by the pink chorale of "The Holly and the Ivy" followed.
By this time, I really needed a fix of "I Hate Christmas Eve." And there it was-even and pointedly sung, with just the right touch of meanness by David Brannen, who has patiently served the past few years as the Grinch understudy, working on his scowls and slithers.
Such skilled slithering is always short-lived, of course, when it comes to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. No matter where you turn, some jolly prude is subverting a misunderstood realist like the Grinch. Problems are solved. Joy is afflictive.
Just when Christmas seemed on the brink of being lifted, the entire Who cast broke out into "Last Minute Shopping," piling up presents, preparing favorite foods and adorning Xmas trees. Niceness reigned throughout the land, a torment directed at those, like myself, who valiantly fight against warm-fuzzies at this "special time of the year."
Once again, I was saved from an overdose of good cheer by our Christmas Hulk. He addressed the audience, assuring that he would ruin Christmas for everyone in Who-ville.
Young Max (Rusty Ross) then reprised his role and sang a duet with Old Max for "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." One got the impression that the two mutts wish the Grinch would just call it a day, ease up a bit and share a jolt of eggnog with the pink little people. Their duet was subtly and beautifully treasonous, a toy with unconditional love.
Yet no pleasure equaled that which was reaped when the Grinch looked out at the audience and mouthed: "I spit on your Christmas." I knew then that the Grinch's heart would always remain two sizes too small, and so I cheered for the man in green once again.
Steal those presents, I said to myself.
The Grinch slithered down from the rafters; he slouched about the set and snailed across the floor. I loved his moves. I loved the way he recited his lines-full of venom, his eyes full of anger.
But like all revered anti-heroes, the Grinch meets his match not in something as fierce as he, but in something barely there-the young Cindy-Lou Who (Shawn Sullivan). She is so small, so cute, so pink, so demanding and so talented that the Grinch utterly falls to her whimsy. He tried to fight, but his evil was obviously in the wrong weight division for this final Christmas spar.
Still, I had hope:
For all the times this story's been told... for all the TV specials and bad Jim Carrey movies... just this once, resist, man. Remain true to yourself. Be who you be-evil. Evil to the bone.
And yet, it was useless, as it is every year. As the Who family ventured out into the aisles of the Old Globe and confetti fell from the rafters, I sang along to their remarkably peppy "Fa-la-la-las."How the Grinch Stole Christmas runs through Dec. 31 at The Old Globe Theatre. 619-23-GLOBE.