The familiar yuletide tale from Dr. Seuss gets a musical face-lift in a touring version of the Broadway production. Narrator Old Max (John Larroquette), a wiser incarnation of the dog belonging to The Grinch (Stefan Karl), introduces the Whos of Whoville and their traditions, as well as the Grinch’s desire to put an end to their good cheer. In addition to Albert Hague’s widely known “Welcome, Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” a number of new songs cleverly incorporate traditional Christmas jingles but fails to achieve the iconic status of the aforementioned numbers (though “Santa For a Day,” featuring cute-as-a-button Kayley Stallings as Cindy-Lou Who, is sweet). What distinguishes this compact production (90 minutes without intermission) are John Lee Beatty’s set pieces, which incorporate Seuss’ original line drawings; Robert Morgan’s costumes, including the pastel mint hues of the Whos, and the bilious green coat sported by the Grinch; Thomas Augustine’s hair and wigs, featuring mounds of colorful curls and swirls; Angelina Avallone’s wonderfully detailed makeup; and Gregory Meeh’s clever special effects, like the flying sleigh and ubiquitous snowflakes. Director Matt August deftly manages hundreds of moving parts and gets an appropriately over-the-top performance from Karl, whose Grinch surpasses that of Jim Carrey’s. Headliner Larroquette has a surprisingly smooth hot-cocoa baritone, but his deadpan delivery is a bit too reminiscent of Dan Fielding. Like any face-lift, this one retains some wrinkles but makes for good family fare. Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Wed.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2, 5 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m., 2 & 5 p.m.; through Jan. 3. (800) 982-2787 or A Nederlander and Running Subway Production.

Sat., Nov. 14, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 3, 8 p.m. Starts: Nov. 14. Continues through Jan. 3, 2009

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