There was a strange, furry, green visitor at the Warwick mall on Friday. Who was it? It was the… the… the… The Grinch!
The Dr. Seuss character from the children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is now a living, breathing star of the stage.
Stefan Karl, who plays the iconic green villain in the touring production of the Broadway musical “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” donned his green suit and greeted fans at the Warwick Mall food court last week.
Karl and a crew from the Providence Performing Arts Center, where the show will play in November, were touring around the state to promote the holiday musical.
Karl’s other stops included Barnes and Noble in Warwick, The Meeting Street School in Providence, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
For Karl, being the Grinch isn’t about being mean, it’s about doing quite the opposite.
“I have four kids myself,” said Karl, who hails from Iceland but now calls California home, “I know how much it means to them, and how important theater is for kids. I’ve never met a child that doesn’t love theater.”
Karl has been playing the Grinch for four years, and he doesn’t mind the hour and a half costuming and make-up regiment that precedes every show and promotional appearance. For him, the smiles on children’s faces make the process worth it.
Karl said it’s rewarding “seeing the kids faces light up.”
“That’s such a rare thing in our society,” he said.
Karl knows the value and importance of live theater, and said the children can sit in front of the television or computer anytime, but seeing something live in front of them is a powerful thing.
Karl said the stage show is true to Dr. Seuss’ original ideas, not a recreation of the Jim Carey movie, which Karl said is very different.
“It’s what Dr. Seuss would have wanted,” explained Karl, who said the cast and crew worked closely with Dr. Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel.
“The focus was to make it as effective for the kids as [well as] the parents,” he explained.
The show features 25 actors and 15 musicians, and Karl called it “real Broadway musical theater.”
“It’s fun stuff,” he said, “I slide down a wall of the theater and scare the children. There’s confetti and explosions; smoke and fun.”
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will run at PPAC November 15-20. Tickets are available online at www.ppacri.org or by calling 421-ARTS (2787).