Actress Grace Bauer portrays one of Dr. Seuss’ iconic characters, Cindy Lou Who, in the one-woman show, “Who’s Holiday,” playing through Nov. 30 at Portland’s Good Theater. Steve Underwood

Thanksgiving is a week away, and already the Christmas-themed shows are showing up on the performing arts calendar. The season opener, for me at least, is “Who’s Holiday,” a wildly funny and poignant one-woman comedy based on one of Dr. Seuss’ favorite characters: Cindy Lou Who from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky, known for blending country, folk and pop styles, takes the stage at Portland’s One Longfellow Square this Saturday.

‘Who’s Holiday’

A ribald, steamy sequel to one of the best known Christmas stories for children is the opening of Good Theater’s expanded Second Stage season. “Who’s Holiday” is a one-woman show where actress Grace Bauer portrays a middle-aged Cindy Lou Who.

Who? For most of us, Cindy Lou Who was a 2-year-old character in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a 1957 story by Dr. Seuss that has sold millions of copies and has been adapted to film and television. In the original, Cindy Lou confronts the eponymous villain as he raids homes in Whoville, stealing the residents’ presents and even their Christmas trees.

Eventually, the Grinch, a green-skinned rodent-like character, relents, returns the stolen stuff – and happiness returns to Whoville.

Sixty years after the original, playwright Matthew Lombardo created a sequel, with middle-aged Cindy Lou recalling the events of her life in the decades following.

On her 18th birthday, she’s knocked up by the Grinch, and for the next 20 years she’s knocked around cruelly, suffering the vicissitudes of life on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. But Cindy Lou maintains an optimistic attitude, and by the denouement, she’s stabilized and things are looking up.

Like the original, Lombardo’s play is entirely written in rhyming couplets, often cleverly polysyllabic. Many of Lombarado’s jokes are really funny, and many are really raunchy. This is definitely an adults-only show.

Bauer is outstanding in her delivery, projecting an element of wide-eyed girlish innocence throughout the long litany of trials and tribulations she relates. I also liked Steve Underwood’s set, representing the interior of a kitschy trailer, colorfully decorated for a Christmas party.

“Who’s Holiday” is the opening show of Good Theater’s Second Stage, which has been expanded considerably this year to three shows. It’s a case of capitalizing on previously unused time, according to founding artistic director Brian Allen.

“Because Good Theater is in residence at St. Lawrence Arts, we have the space, and dark nights were missed opportunities,” Allen said. “After spending two years experimenting with material and schedules, we have formalized the Second Stage and will continue to offer three shows in this series for the foreseeable future. We are very proud of this program and are currently looking at some very fun and interesting shows to include for next season.”

Allen adds, “Good Theater’s Second Stage Series is an opportunity for more diverse shows in the season. The Second Stage must work with the main stage as two productions share the space for their respective runs.

“The Second Stage provides more actors and directors with work. It gives our audiences a greater diversity of material, and this series allows us to present shows that might be too small or too edgy to include in our main stage series.”

Good Theater presents “Who’s Holiday” through Nov. 30 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St. (top of Munjoy Hill) at 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Call 835-0895.

Lucy Kaplansky

About a year ago, New York singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky released her first solo album in six years and it has been a big success. She motors into Portland this Saturday, still riding high on its critical and popular acceptance.

We corresponded via email, and Kaplansky explained that “Everyday Street” features harmonies by Shawn Colvin and Richard Shindell and is the most acoustically based, intimate album she’s ever made. It was recorded over four days and features Kaplansky and multi-instrumentalist Duke Levine on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandola, resonator guitar and octave mandolin.

Her email to me continued: “The opening song, ‘Old Friends,’ a duet with my longtime friend Shawn Colvin, is a reflection on our friendship and on our times together in the early days of the Greenwich Village folk scene. ‘Keeping Time,’ with Richard Shindell on harmony, is from my vantage point as a mother sharing our neighborhood’s rhythms, from a distance, with the late actor and father of three, Philip Seymour Hoffman. There are also four cover songs which have been fan favorites from my shows, including Nanci Griffith’s ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ and ‘Loch Lomond.’”

Catch Lucy Kaplansky live Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: