By Tulis McCall
Welcome to Who’s Holiday, the sad, sad, and even sadder tale of Cindy Lou Who, from the classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Doctor Seuss. Published in 1957, it featured Cindy Lou as a young girl of 3 years old, which would make her roughly 62 right now. Lesli Margherita is about 20 years off that mark.
Ms. Who now lives on Mount Crumpit (former home of the Grinch) in a teeny-weeny trailer that appears to have no bed other than an L-shaped seating area that would not accommodate a small deer. What she does have, however, is a table loaded with hard liquor for her upcoming party. We are the ancillary guests that Ms. Who will use as a warmup while she waits for her real guests to arrive.
Which, of course, they do not. One by one her guests check in to say they are “unable” to join her for the holiday party.
As Cindy Lou drinks, chats up the audience, smokes some Who-hash and pops a Tramadol, she relates her sad tale.
Here is the deal: Turns out that after the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes on that long-ago Christmas Eve, he was befriended by the entire population of Who-ville. Of special importance was the friendship he developed with Cindy Lou. He was like a second father. Until he wanted to become a first husband. And of course a real father, because, thanks to the Grinch, Cindy Lou had a bun in the oven. She was not sorry for this because she was smitten with the Grinch and the wild sex they shared. Her passion for the Grinch is explained in a Rap that felt like it had seen better days.
The tale spirals downward. Cindy Lou gave birth to a little green daughter, Patti, and the Grinch turned out to be the dud that he always was. Their dog Max met his demise, as did the Grinch, whose death was blamed on Cindy Lou. Into jail she sailed for over a decade, and her 7 year old Patti was put into a home until she reached the right age for being sprung. Patti and Cindy Lou did not see each other after that last day in court. When Cindy Lou was released from jail, Patti was otherwise occupied with her own life. No contact. The other Who citizens shunned Cindy Lou and tonight here she is, on Christmas Eve. Not singing around the famous tree with her fellow citizens, but here in her trailer, a-l-o-n-e.
Or is she? As the show draws to a close Cindy Lou does the math and notices that we, the audience, have not left her side. Perhaps we are the friends she needed on this lonely holiday. And as she rejoices in this new discovery, the snow starts to fall, and one guest actually shows up. A very important one.
If you are going to mess with a classic you better arrive with a full picnic basket. This production was a few sandwiches shy from the start. There is not much of a plot onto which you can hang your Santa’s hat. Matthew Lombardo’s story is ho-hum. (Mr. Lombardo had to sue the Seuss Estate in order to get permission to produce this play.) Ms. Margherita plays one note throughout: cute but with an edge. Perhaps if she had had more guidance from her director, Carl Andress, she would have been able to rise above the material. That did not seem to be the case here.
And not for nuthin’, but you all should know that I was more or less alone in my reaction to the Cindy Lou hour. At the conclusion of the show, 97% of the rest of the audience stood up and cheered. I have no explanation for this other than the possibility of a parallel universe.
Why was this written? Why was that done?
It doesn’t seem fittin’, ‘Cause this show’s no fun.
WHO’s HOLIDAY by Matthew Lombardo, Directed by Carl Andress
WITH Lesli Margherita
Set by David Gallo; lights Ken Billington and Jonathan Spencer; costumes by Jess Goldstein; sound by Bart Fasbender
Who’s Holiday LLC presents Who’s Holiday. At the Westside Theatre through December 31. Tickets $95.00