It’s a match made in Whoville.
Children’s Theatre Company has premiered three works by Dr. Seuss — including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which returns to the stage this weekend — with a fourth making its U.S. premiere there next spring.
“The quality of the Children’s Theatre — its actors, its leadership team, its smart audience, everything about them — fortifies the great decision that Ted Geisel made when he picked them nearly 40 years ago,” said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. “It’s an impressive company.”
The relationship started at the end of the disco era, when Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, came to Minneapolis in 1979 to watch over the world premiere of “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” — the first Seuss book to have a professional stage adaptation. The company took that show to places near and far, including Japan.
Next came “Grinch,” a perennial winner that made its debut in 1994, three years after Geisel’s death. The last staging, in 2014, broke box office records at the playhouse.
CTC artistic director Peter Brosius is at the helm again for the production that opens Friday, with Reed Sigmund as the title character.
“Ted Geisel, of course, is a force in children’s literature, but he’s also a moral force,” said Brosius. “His stories call us to play, to examine, to look inward and stand up for what’s right. They call us to our better selves.”
Last spring, Brosius directed the world premiere of the Seuss musical “The Sneetches,” a timely piece about wall-building between the haves and have-nots. And in April, the CTC will host “The Lorax,” an environment-themed musical that originated at London’s Old Vic and will play Toronto, Minneapolis and San Diego next year.
“Seuss’ stories are timeless and resonant,” said CTC managing director Kimberly Motes. “If you look at ‘Sneetches,’ it’s about how differences, which at first divide us, make us stronger. ‘Lorax’ asks us to be stewards of the Earth so that we can pass it on to our children.”
As for “Grinch,” it’s a tale of redemption.
“Ted was trying to impart important lessons in children’s lives,” said Brandt, “and with the Children’s Theatre, it gets translated into three dimensions.”
Brosius said he’s still discovering new insights into the story.
“It’s so endearing because at its core, it’s a story of optimism,” he said. “We can all change, even the grinchiest, most closed and most hateful among us. We can all find a way to connect to something larger and surprising.”
And it may fortify the company’s box office, too.
612-673-4390 • @rohanpreston
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Who: Book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, music by Mel Marvin. Directed by Peter Brosius.
Where: Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls.
When: 7 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 2 & 5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Ends Jan. 7.
Tickets: $15-$75. 612-874-0400 or childrenstheatre.org.