The Grinch dials in from his cave above Whoville to dish on National Theatre show

The 2016 national tour of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical." (Andy Martin Jr/Andy Martin Jr)(Andy Martin Jr/Andy Martin Jr)
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Grinch' at National Theatre (Part 1)
Some interview guests bubble with holiday cheer. Others absolutely despise Christmas.

The Grinch called WTOP all the way from his cave above Whoville to discuss “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” musical at the National Theatre now through Sunday.

“It’s not very nice to be here,” The Grinch said next to his dog Max, who thankfully didn’t bark. “I put him in a cage in the back and I throw some toys in there, well not really as much toys as crumpled up McDonald’s wrappers. He thinks he’s having fun, so I can get some peace and quiet so I can do my numerous radio and television interviews.”

The show follows Dr. Seuss’ iconic story that we all know by heart.

“It’s about the best part of Christmas, which is of course me, the best holiday icon there’s ever been — not Rudolph!” The Grinch said. “It’s about me living in my cave and one day I come out and realize I don’t like Christmas, the noise, the children and the candy. … I decide that I’m going to steal their Christmas and make sure it can never happen again.”

However, his heart is melted by the warmth of the Whos in Whoville.

“A little Who child named Cindy Lou Who warms my heart a little bit,” The Grinch said. “By the end, I realize that Christmas is not about the things and the stuff and the candy, but more about the love that we all share — and my heart grows three times bigger.”

His transformation is sure to put audiences into the holiday spirit.

“It’s a nice story about how you can feel left out, but then when you become a part of a community, you realize that Christmas is more about love and acceptance than it is about stuff and toys and food,” The Grinch said. “The holiday season is love and community.”

What did Mr. Grinch think when he first read Dr. Seuss’ 1957 storybook?

“When Seuss wrote the book and the illustrations were done in the original text, they were pretty spot on,” The Grinch said. “Everything is a little heightened and warped compared to what the parents and kids of Washington, D.C. might be used to. Everything is very bright and cheerful [on stage]. You also see me in my cave, which is darker, colder and smellier.”

His life changed forever when the 1966 animated film aired on television.

“I haven’t gotten one check yet,” The Grinch said. “They’re using my image and yet I’m not getting a nickel, which is a little bit upsetting. I’ve had my lawyers dealing with it, but Max is also my lawyer and it’s a little hard for a dog to be in the bar association.”

Still, he loved that it was narrated by Boris Karloff of “Frankenstein.”

“I love his work, marching around terrorizing people, he is a delight,” The Grinch said.

The film took some jabs in Thurl Ravenscroft’s song “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.”

“Some things they describe are actually true: there are termites in my smile, I’ve gotten that checked out,” The Grinch said. “Parody is the best form of flattery. … When you make up a song about somebody, really I think it’s a form of flattery. Yes, they’re talking about how mean I am, but ‘hurting my feelings,’ ehh, that’s a bit of a broad way of putting it.”

Speaking of Broad-way, what songs do we hear in the musical?

“There was more music besides the original song written by Timothy Mason and Mel Marvin,” The Grinch said. “They put together some great songs. The Whos have a couple of numbers … and I have a song all to myself called ‘One of a Kind.’ … Cindy Lou Hoo gets a ballad, it makes me a little ill, but should I be admitting that on the radio?”

Most importantly, what does he think of the actor who is playing him?

“His name is James Schultz,” The Grinch said. “Honestly, I think he’s OK. I mean, he can kind of sing and dance. He’s not really a triple threat; more of a double warning. … No actor can get the magnificence that is me, The Grinch, in real life. … He was a little standoffish. I tried to get an autograph, but he just kind of looked at me and walked away.”

Maybe one day Schultz will have the guts to join us.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Grinch' at National Theatre (Part 2)

Listen to the full interview here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

The 2016 national tour of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical." (Andy Martin Jr/Andy Martin Jr)(Andy Martin Jr/Andy Martin Jr)
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