- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - This Christmas, Broadway veteran Jeff McCarthy’s heart will be growing a few sizes _ as much as 13 times a week.

McCarthy is playing the green, hairy, anti-holiday creature in “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Based on the classic Theodor Geisel tale, the musical tells the story of the Grinch’s Christmas conversion after he tries to steal the holiday spirit from the residents of Whoville.

McCarthy, 58, agreed to wear the furry costume and green face paint despite never having seen the show, which has kicked around on Broadway and on tour for several years.

Why did he do it? “I needed the money,” McCarthy deadpans.

McCarthy joined the show in Boston before it made its way south to New York and eased into the part _ one of musical theater’s coldest hearts. He has two grown daughters and commutes in from his home in Montclair, N.J. And, no, he can’t take the suit home.

The born-and-raised Californian has amassed plenty of Broadway credits over the years, including “The Pirate Queen,” “Urinetown” and “Beauty and the Beast.” He’s played Billy Flynn in “Chicago” several times on Broadway and on tour.

That last show led to one of McCarthy’s weirdest jobs. A few years back, he was playing “Chicago” in Saskatoon, Canada, on the same weekend that The Eagles were playing. There were no hotel rooms left for the theater pros, so everyone in the cast rented their own cars and drove 80 miles across the middle of nowhere to stay at a motel.

It got worse one night when McCarthy accidentally pushed a button and opened up the sunroof. “It was 45 degrees below freezing outside! I couldn’t figure out how to close the dumb thing,” he says, laughing.

Perhaps McCarthy’s most lucrative gigs was as the official voice of the top hat-wearing Michigan J. Frog, a job that started when he voiced the cartoon film “Another Froggy Evening” and then became permanent when he voiced the frog as the mascot for the now-defunct CW Television Network.

Weirdly, Michigan J. Frog was drawn by legendary artists Chuck Jones, who also directed the original 1966 animated TV special “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!”

The Associated Press sat down with McCarthy to find out how he keeps perspective as the mean old Grinch, the surprising way he keeps his electrolytes up, and influencing the next generation of theatergoers.


AP: How long does it take you to get ready for each show?

McCarthy: It only takes 30 minutes for the makeup and about 5 minutes for the costume. It’s easier than I ever could have imagined.

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