With its message of friendship, community and tolerance, Children’s Theatre Company’s production of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been a part of their holiday tradition since its debut.
“We have a longstanding connection with Grinch,” says CTC senior communications manager Melissa Ferlaak. “We have the honor of having been given the rights to create the first live theatrical version of Grinch by the Seuss estate in 1994.”
This year, two Lake Minnetonka-area actors, Sidney Whiteside and Antonio De La Vega, are joining the Grinch tradition and performing in their biggest productions to date.
Ten-year-old Sidney Whiteside, who lives in Shorewood and attends Scenic Heights Elementary School, looks forward to November when she’ll be playing Tiny Who and Mini Max. Whiteside is also the understudy for the role of Cindy Lou Who. Whiteside’s love of the arts started when she was 3 years old and began studying and performing dance. Her passion for acting started when she attended a Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre summer camp in Minnetonka. “I like theater because I get to play characters that have different personalities than I do,” says Whiteside. “It’s fun getting to understand a character, and then to share that character with the audience.”
Whiteside says the most challenging part she’s played so far in her career is Queen Aggravain at Scenic Heights Elementary’s performance of Once Upon a Mattress. “Queen Aggravain is nothing like me, and it took me awhile to understand her. But as I got more and more into it, I started to figure her out and it was great to be able to play a character so different from me.”
Sixteen-year-old Tonka Bay resident Antonio De La Vega will be performing the role of a Who Man. De La Vega attends Minnetonka High School, where he is involved in theater and sings in the concert choir.
De La Vega made his acting debut in fifth grade, playing the role of Roger Radcliffe in 101 Dalmatians, in a pilot program where high school directors worked with elementary school students. He’s pursued theater ever since.
Says De La Vega, “What I love most about acting is getting to be someone other than myself. I feel like I can get life experience from portraying characters with lives different than my own.” He adds, “I’m very inspired by actress Cynthia Erivo, who played Celie in The Color Purple [on Broadway]. Erivo made me appreciate that theater is more than the showy and typical Broadway performances actors too often portray. The raw emotion in all her scenes really influenced me to go deeper into the characters.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of Children’s Theatre’s all-time popular productions. Whiteside and De La Vega are excited to be part of it.
grinch photo by dan norman, antonio and sidney photos courtesy of children's theatre company
The Grinch runs from November 7 to January 7. Show times vary; check the website for details.
Box office hours: Tuesday–Friday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and two hours prior to any public performance.