Interview with The Grinch

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"Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical" is at the Grand Ole Opry House through Sunday, Dec. 27 with Gaylord Opryland’s “A Country Christmas.” Broadway Actor Stephen Bishop, who plays the Grinch, talks about the show.

Stephen Bishop

Stephen Bishop

By now, with the holiday season in full swing, your family’s most likely aware of the new offerings during this year’s “A Country Christmas” at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Among them, the Nashville debut of the Broadway musical, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. It replaces the long-standing Rockettes show at the Grand Ole Opry House, and it’s sure to dazzle kids of all ages in your family.

The musical is based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved book of the same name that first hit shelves in 1957, and later became a sensational animated holiday TV special first airing in 1966; the story also became a live action movie starring Jim Carrey in 2000.

Actor Stephen Bishop says he’s excited about starring as the Grinch. Bishop’s been on stage for more than 15 years, with roles on Broadway (Beast and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, and Thenardier in Les Miserables) as well as regional theater and national tour work. We caught up with him during a break from rehearsals at Chelsea Studios in New York, and found out the way he fell into acting is thanks to a crush.

“I was a sports guy all through high school and into college,” Bishop says. “What got me into acting was actually a girl, oddly enough … I followed that girl to an audition, and because I’m six feet four inches tall and carry myself I guess in a really masculine way, the director said, ‘Hey, man, why don’t you audition?’ I said, ‘I don’t do theater,’ but I auditioned anyway, got the role and the rest is history.”

The 47-year-old North Carolina native (whose home is now Los Angeles) fondly recalls his childhood and how his entire holiday season revolved around seeing the Grinch special on TV as well as A Charlie Brown Christmas. Now that he’s on stage playing the infamous green monster with a heart two sizes too small, Bishop says he loves the character’s evolution.

“I think the Grinch’s journey is so important and so complex … any character that can present that kind of complexity is a juicy treat for an actor,” he says, adding the stage version is “spot on” in keeping with Seuss’ book while it’s “a little more fleshed out than the cartoon.”

Seuss’ story is a timeless one in how it’s critical of the commercialization of Christmas — and remember, it was first published in 1957! — and the character and the tale still resonate strongly with children today.

“Roles like this come around once in a blue moon,” says Bishop. “I can’t even begin to put into words the excitement and joy that it brings me to bring the Grinch to life and to pass it on to a whole new generation of kids! I think it’s tremendous what Seuss did in helping his audience realize there’s more to Christmas than the hoopla of the glitz and glitter.”

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is on stage at the Grand Ole Opry House various days and times through Sunday, Dec. 27. Tickets are $24.99 – $89.99. Children 3 and younger are free if they sit on a parent’s lap. Get tickets at 615-889-1000 or christmasatgaylordopryland.com.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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