"HOW THE GROUCH STOLE CHRISTMAS," through Jan. 3, Desert Star Playhouse, 4861 S. State, Murray (801-266-7610 or desertstar.biz); running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (one intermission and olios)
MURRAY — No one is spared the skewer in Desert Star Playhouse’s “How the Grouch Stole Christmas,” based loosely on the Dr. Seuss book about the mean, green, Christmas-hating machine.
The Jazz, the Utes, BYU, home teachers, funeral potatoes and Provo — all the usual — are generously used as joke fodder. But so are new laws for gay couples, Mia Love, Larry King, John Swallow, Jimmy Osmond, Barack Obama, Kurt Bestor and Tom Shane. There are also some pretty harsh cop jokes.
This offering may not be fun for everyone, but those who enjoy this brand of humor may want to fit this production, which runs through Jan. 3, into their holiday plans.
It's funny every minute, and some of the banter between the characters (played by two casts on alternate nights) — particularly between Richie T. Steadman, who plays Kenny the dog, and Matt O'Malley, who plays the Grouch — is epic. It's almost too bad when they come back from the ad-lib groaners to the script. ("Who killed this chicken? I suspect foul play! Is this poultry-geist?")
Erica Renee Smith, who plays the lispy 4-year-old Cindy Lou, moves from slightly annoying to endearing as the show progresses. Her siblings, Becky Sue (played by Ashley Haslam) and Sam Who (played by Krystal Kiene), provide plenty of hair-pulling, happy family moments.
Mayor Who, played by Lee Daily, makes for a creepy, leering character. ("They talked about guys like him in preschool!" says Cindy Lou.)
Rick Miller is the Hunter in a Scottish kilt, carrying a rifle that resembles a toilet plunger, and becomes the love interest for Mama Who (played by Brittany Nielson). He is gregarious and fun and comes across as bigger than life.
There's a very loose moral buried in all the nonsense as the children realize it's Christmas even without their tree and presents and end up inviting the Grouch to stay for the holiday — to which the Grouch says, "Uh I got nothin!"
There's also a delightful collision between the Abominable Snowman, the Grouch, Santa Claus and parts of several classic Christmas stories.
The songs are lively and finger-snapping. "Wiping Out This Christmas" by the Grouch is particularly watchable, even and especially as O'Malley massacres the lyrics.
Everyone involved in this comical holiday treat of a musical parody (written by Ben E. Millet and adapted by Scott Holman) is spot on and professional.
The jokes may come at everything from Primary songs to the curtain dropping in Whyville — otherwise known as East Provo — but it's all in good fun, and it's clean — if you don't count the dog drinking raspberry-flavored water from the toilet bowl.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.