‘The Grinch’ is coming to the Park City and Summit County libraries
For many, Dr. Seuss’ beloved "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a charming holiday tale.
But for the Salt Lake-based acting troupe called The Players, the story is a reflection of society.
"The story is really a combination of what many people feel that Christmas has become, which is a completely sterile and commercial kind of thing," said Players member Gerald McDonough. "The story goes that the Grinch has the idea that if he steals the presents, then Christmas is gone.
"Of course, that is not what happens," McDonough said. "So, the story unfolds into an [antithesis] of what the Grinch perceives Christmas to be. It’s a touching, sentimental and very funny story about Christmas."
The Players, McDonough, P.J. Droubay and Woody Whitney, will present a live performance of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Park City Library on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 11 a.m. and at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch on Monday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m.
"These are very compact performances," McDonough said. "We used to do elaborate productions, but have found the simpler the better. For little kids, time is an apparent problem, so we get in and get out."
That doesn’t mean the performance skimps on substance.
"We still use costumes and props for these performances," McDonough said. "Woody does all the sound effects and plays the fiddle, P.J. mimes the whole thing and I do the voices and narration."
The Players began performing in city and county libraries around Salt Lake City in 1981.
"We started as a street-theatre group and performed 15-minute ‘Hamlets’ and 15-minute short Shakespeares on the street," McDonough said. "We even did ‘Richard III’ busses and a number of other things of that nature."
The troupe started doing readings at the Salt Lake Public Library and incorporated music, mime and narration.
"We were actually invited at the Sprague Branch Library in Sugarhouse one year and we had a radio-theatre production of ‘Scrooge,’ but they wanted something more for children," McDonough said. "So, we thought about ‘The Grinch.’"
McDonough, whose grandfather Bartley McDonough served as the marshal of Park City and the head of the Western Federation of Miners, also enjoys a special closeness with the works of Dr. Seuss, the pseudonym of Theodore "Ted" Geisel.
"He worked with my mother," McDonough said. "She worked for a humor magazine called Judge Magazine back in the 1930s that was located in Philadelphia and New York and he was the cartoonist.
"As a result, my family knew all about Seuss and ‘The Grinch’ is one of the pantheon of stories that we had in our family," he said. "In fact, we had it long before the TV version came out in the 1960s."
Seuss’s trademark rhyming and word styles came from his upbringing in Springfield, Massachusetts, according to McDonough.
"He lived around Irish, Russian and German immigrants and became familiar with all of those dialects and incorporated these elements into his writings," McDonough said. "He was a great linguist and knew how to put rhymes together."
In addition to performing ‘The Grinch’ at libraries, The Players perform at detention centers, battered women shelters, rest homes and do productions for Heart and Soul, which brings entertainment to those who can’t leave their houses for one reason or another.
"This is a story that appeals to all ages and it really makes our Christmas for us," McDonough said. "It’s so easy to get cynical about Christmas, but somewhere around the third or fourth performances of the season, we get a big boost from it."
The Players will present a live performance of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 11 a.m. and at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, 1885 W. Ute Blvd., on Monday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
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