How Grinchy Met The Who

Crescendo issue: December 2013

"I was just talking off the top of my head about doing some kind of mash-up show where we mixed a parody of a story with a rock group, and I said 'We should do something like 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas,' with music by The Who...' and then I realized, that was exactly what we should do."

Thus was born "How Grinchy Met The Who," by Interlochen Arts Academy alumna, and current Creative Writing and Motion Picture Arts faculty member, Lesley Tye.

The show is currently running at Traverse City's InsideOut Gallery, with two more showings slated for December 6 and 7. While Lesley is the driving force behind this production, she is certainly not the only connection to Interlochen's campus.

"Our lead actor is Jimmy Olson, who was a piano major at Interlochen," explains Tye. "Jimmy was in one of my classes. While we were in the process of auditioning, I actually contacted him to see if he might know anyone who would be interested, as I knew he was in the area performing on his own and with his band, G-Snaks. As it turns out, Jimmy was interested and he ended up being perfect for the part. Though Jimmy is a seasoned performer in the music world, this is his first professional theatrical performance."

"The other Interlochen connection is Katie Wibby, a chemistry teacher at the Academy. It may not be well known that on top of her love for chemistry, Katie is also a trained dancer. What has been cool is this production has given her a chance to pursue her personal interests in the arts and given her an opportunity to perform."

With all of this Interlochen involvement, it's no wonder that this show is so very delightfully unique.

"The show is a 'Mash-Up Rock 'n Roll Musical Christmas Parody,'" says Tye. "We've written a parody of the beloved Christmas narrative and are presenting it through the lens of The Who's 1970s psychedelic rock opera 'Tommy.' The story is also a fictional telling of how The Who came about as a band, if The Who were a band down in Whoville. The show includes live music, dance, and even some improv and audience participation. With this last aspect it means that no two shows will be alike. The way the script was written actually included parts for the actors to incorporate their own ideas and improv - it's not a show that can be reproduced or published - part of the point is the creation of the production within the troupe itself. Folks should expect a high-energy rock 'n roll filled show with a lot of comedy and fun. The whole show is written in rhyme, with plenty of fun references that The Who and 'Tommy' fans will love. While it's a parody of a kids' story, it is not a kids' show, though older kids and teens who enjoy rock music will also enjoy it."

Tye credits her time at Interlochen, her colleagues' commitment and her overall love of the arts as driving forces behind the success that is this production.

"As arts teachers at Interlochen, we strive to find ways to pursue our art and further ourselves as artists, which can be a challenge with a full teaching load," Tye said. "It's really vital that we continue to be artists, which, in turn, benefits our students when they see us working in our own artform. Living in this area and always being inspired by the work done by my colleagues and students has given me this opportunity to write, direct and produce a show like this. Although I have a ton of experience in writing screenplays, and I'm an avid performer in local theatre, this is my first time writing (let alone directing and producing) a stage show. I think the collaborative nature of work done at Interlochen has helped me to be successful in this collaborative work, and will in turn come back to the classroom as I work with students. I'm really excited that my students have an opportunity to come see the Dec 7 performance of the show, as Student Activities is working with me to offer a bus and chaperones."

More information on "How Grinchy Met The Who" can be found here.