“Such an innocent I was. Oh, the ignorance of youth.
Then life starts to unfold and you get kicked in the tooth.
…See? My loathing stems from a deep-rooted place
In a town known as Whoville, where I can’t show my face…”
Around 1988, my mom successfully recorded most of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on our BETA VCR.
My brother and I watched it about 70 times a year, most of those showings outside the holiday season. It’s the perfect Christmas redemption story—misanthropic green monster is annoyed by noisy neighbors and attempts to destroy their celebrations, only to have a change of heart after the Whos down in Whoville join hands, celebrate and sing. Spoiler: the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes, he learns the error of his ways, and he brings their stuff back. They all live happily ever after.
Or maybe not quite?
In the world of contemporary theater, authors have often found great success in asking the question—what happens after the “happily ever after,” and what is the fallout after “the end?” (See “Into the Woods,” “Dog Sees God” and “Clybourne Park” as perhaps the most famous examples.) “Who’s Holiday!” which opens Open Stage’s 34th season, is the story of Cindy Lou Who after her very first encounter with the Grinch on that fateful Christmas Eve.
You remember her, right? The wide-eyed 2-year-old who catches the Grinch in the act of shoving her Christmas tree up the chimney, asking the quavering question: “Why Santy Claus? Why?”
Fast-forward 40-plus years, and the pink pajama-clad toddler is a vodka-guzzling, pill-popping, Spandex-clad hermit who has been ostracized from Whoville. She now lives alone in a hand-me-down trailer at the top of Mount Crumpit. When we meet her, it is the night before Christmas, and Cindy Lou is throwing a holiday soiree. You, the audience, are among the first guests to arrive.
Cindy Lou’s life has become rather complicated after her first encounter with the Grinch, and the 90-minute story that follows is packed with a tale of drug abuse, poverty and starvation, and even murder. That said, this show is most definitely considered a comedy—albeit one packed with a whole lot of cussing, drinking and some highly inappropriate behavior. Oh, and it’s all done in Seuessian rhyme.
This one-woman show, originally featuring the phenomenal Lesli Margherita in the 2017 off-Broadway production, will make its Pennsylvania premiere at Open Stage this month, breaking in the brand-new, 60-seat Studio Theater. This show will also be the first play to open in Open Stage after the massive renovation to the space. It’s a tall order, considering Open Stage will be producing the 20th anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol” across the lobby in the Angino Family Theater at the same time. For those looking for a family-friendly tale of redemption, “A Christmas Carol” is definitely for you. For those seeking an adults-only evening of entertainment, “Who’s Holiday!” is your ticket of choice.
Stuart Landon (my aforementioned brother), who is entering his third year as producing director at Open Stage, will be directing me in this one-person outing. Landon is no stranger to the genre, having portrayed the indomitable Crumpet the Elf in “Santaland Diaries” at Open Stage from 2011-16. Cindy Lou is an exciting and terrifying character to play, and the challenge of bringing this minor Seuss character to life is a daunting one—she is crude, she is crass, and she is a highly aggressive flirt to boot. But despite her tasteless outfits, strident alcoholism and penchant for colorful four-letter-words, Cindy Lou is a complicated Who with tragic past and a heart of gold.
“Who’s Holiday!” is not for the faint of heart, but for those who enjoy irreverent humor, smutty stories, Grinch-themed shots and perhaps even bad Judy Garland impressions. Get your tickets to this twisted Christmas tale premiering at Open Stage this holiday season.
“Who’s Holiday!” runs Nov. 16 to Dec. 28 at Open Stage, 25 N. Court St., Harrisburg. Tickets can be purchased at www.opentagehbg.com or by calling the box office at 717-232-6736. Open Stage’s new walk-up box office hours are Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m., and up to one hour before performances.
Upcoming Theater Events
At Open Stage
“TGIW: Thank God It’s Wednesday!”
Parody readings of your favorite shows from the ’80s and ’90s.
Every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Open Stage bar
Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27
“EFF (Erotic Fanfiction) Live!”
Embarrassingly awful readings of fanfiction by local performers.
Every Saturday at 9:45 p.m. in the Open Stage bar.
Nov. 2, 9, 23, 30
Jazz classics and standards by pianist Anthony Haubert in the new Open Stage bar.
Nov. 7, 8, 9, 15, 20 at 7:30 p.m.
“Lady Boy Sings the Blues”
Drag clown Mr. Treats takes on their greatest love: musical theater!
Nov. 20 to 29
A raunchy and hilarious one-woman show about the years following “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Nov. 16 to Dec. 28
“A Christmas Carol”
The holiday classic returns for its 20th anniversary production.
Nov. 23 to Dec. 29