The highly-anticipated and made-for-television production of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” premieres on December 9 on NBC. The show stars Matthew Morrison as the title character and has rounded out the cast with some major celebrity names.
In one of the supporting roles, co-starring alongside Morrison, NBC cast film, television, and Broadway star Denis O’Hare in the role of “Old Max,” the Grinch’s sidekick and begrudgingly beloved pet dog.
Of the experience rehearsing for and filming the musical, while in compliance with strict safety regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, O’Hare told Theatrely, “It was a very tricky process. We had time to have a table read and be in the room – we quickly had to learn the numbers and then to eventually put it all together.” Continuing, he added, “Once the cast had tested negative, we all had to basically quarantine in a hotel and never leave. We were told you know, don’t go out, don’t see friends, etc. Knowing always in the back of our mind, if I turn up positive, I ruin this for everyone. So it was an incredible amount of pressure for nobody to to get sick, to be responsible. And nobody did. It was incredible.”
O’Hare was on a tropical vacation with his family when he got the offer to play Old Max, but said it was an easy decision for him to leave the trip early to fly to London for the production. He told Theatrely, “It’s one of my favorite stories in the world. You know, not so great to abandon my family on vacation, but still totally worth it!”
O’Hare Is a Tony-Winning Actor & Known for His Numerous Roles on Stage & Screen
If you aren’t familiar with O’Hare and his work, a look at his lengthy and impressive resumé quickly proves why he was offered the role of Old Max for NBC’s production of “The Grinch.”
O’Hare won a Tony Award in 2003 for his work in the play Take Me Out. He also played The Baker in The Public Theater’s 2012 production of Into the Woods. Years before starring together in “The Grinch,” he and Morrison worked together on the made-for-television adaptation of the musical Once Upon a Mattress in 2005.
O’Hare’s television and film credits, according to his IMDb profile, including True Blood, American Horror Story, Dallas Buyers Club, and Milk.
O’Hare Is ‘Old Max,’ While BooBoo Stewart Plays ‘Young Max’
While the film adaptation’s of Dr. Suess’s The Grinch feature Max at only one age, the stage musical adaptation goes back in time to feature a younger version of Max the dog. “Young Max,” as the character is called, will be played by BooBoo Stewart. Stewart is known for film roles in hit franchises including Twilight and Disney’s Descendants.
Of his character’s age distinction from Stewart’s, O’Hare joked to Theatrely that “On set we referred to my character as old-er Max, not just Old Max.” In the stage adaptation, Young Max and Old Max appear together in the musical numbers “This Time of Year” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” airs on Wednesday, December 9 at 8pm ET/7pm CT on NBC.