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The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Reed Sigmund reprises his role as the Grinch at CTC

Glen Stubbe
Reed Sigmund and Matthew Woody in “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Photo courtesy of Glen Stubbe.

In the wake of the Twin Cities’ first snow of the season, the holiday festivities are underway. As we swap our jack o’lanterns for garlands and lights, the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) welcomes this year’s musical production of “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which will run from Nov. 7 to Jan. 7. I spoke with Reed Sigmund, a long-time company member of the children’s theater, and the Grinch himself, about his experience playing the classic character and what we can still learn from a tale so iconic. 

Hailing from Fargo, ND, Sigmund began acting in fourth grade. He was given his role not because he auditioned, but rather because he was the loudest kid in his class and could be heard despite the sound-dampening carpet in their auditorium. Sigmund fell in love with acting, and it became an escape from any self-consciousness he felt when going around as himself rather than as a character. He continued to act throughout high school, but gave it up to enroll as a child psychology major at the University of Minnesota. 

This only lasted a few years before he discovered flyers for the university’s production of “The Bacchae,” an ancient Greek tragedy. Being interested in Greek literature, he decided to audition on a whim, and ended up being cast. Sigmund emphasized how he thought his decision to act again would end after “The Bacchae” came to a close. Instead, he experienced a snowball effect. 

After acting in “The Bacchae,” the director of that show recommended Sigmund to another director in the university, who then cast him in another play, and suddenly he was spending all his time in the theater department. He then declared himself a theater major, and shortly after graduating was referred to the CTC by way of a performing apprenticeship.

“It just fit really well,” Sigmund said about the CTC. “The style of theater, the type of stories that they were telling, the type of artists that they had working there, it all was a natural fit.”

Less than a year later, Sigmund was invited to stay for a second season — and never left. This is his 23rd year as a company member with CTC.

After having played the narrator of the piece, Old Max, a few times, Sigmund was offered the role of the Grinch for the first time in 2007. He had never expected to play the character, as he doesn’t fit the classic look of the anti-hero, but Peter Brosius, the director of the piece, is not one to match a character’s physicality to the actor. 

“Even though, physically, I [did not] match the role, [Brosius] wanted me to give it a whirl and see what I would do with it,” Sigmund explained. “We created something that I think we both had a lot of fun with and seemed to work with the script.” 

Entering his sixth holiday season playing the Grinch, Sigmund says he still discovers something new about the role each time. He revealed that depicting the character is a balancing act, finding a middle ground between a funny and a more serious Grinch, as well as between meeting people’s expectations of the role without directly imitating something they’ve already seen. This line Sigmund toes is all in the name of making sure the story resonates well with the audience, especially the children.

“It’s a tricky little bugger, but one that I absolutely love,” Sigmund said. “It’s a role that if you rely too much on the comedy, the story doesn’t have the same effect. This is a character that has a lot of hate in their heart, and if you’re going to tell a story about the capacity for somebody to grow, you need to see exactly how ugly they begin.”

Through playing the Grinch, Sigmund has realized there’s a lot more to take away from the production than just Christmas joy; in many ways the story represents our world today.

“[The Grinch] flat-out says, ‘I hate all the Whos down in Whoville,’ and he doesn’t know any of them,” Sigmund said. “He [doesn’t] hate them for anything that they’ve done, for anything that they’ve said, just entirely for who they are. Unfortunately, that outlook exists in our world. To try to get somebody with that kind of hate in their heart, that blind intolerance, to change is a significant feat.” 

The CTC strives to maintain much of the Seussian silliness throughout the piece in order to make a lasting impact on the kids in the audience, especially since this might be their first time seeing the piece, or even their first time seeing a live production.

“You hope it inspires conversation on the ride home,” Sigmund noted. “You hope that by the end of it, the story has made them think and feel in a way that maybe other versions haven’t allowed them to.”

It is this mix of these more serious, topical themes with the holiday levity and cheer that keeps Sigmund coming back to reprise the role again and again. 

“Every time, because I don’t like to take anything for granted, I’ve wondered if it’s my last time putting on [the show],” Sigmund explained. “So every time, I feel the giddiness of the first time I did it, and also try to give it the respect like it’s my last.”

“Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will run until Jan. 7th at the CTC in Minneapolis, and I encourage everyone, regardless of age or the size of their heart, to go see the classic Christmas story this holiday season! 

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Abby Bulger
Abby Bulger, Arts Editor
Abby Bulger ’24 (she/they) is the arts editor from Lambertville, N.J. She is a media and cultural studies major with minors in French and studio arts. She spends her free time consuming all kinds of media and painting.

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