Matthew Morrison to Star in 'Grinch' Musical on NBC

Matthew Morrison - Getty - H 2018
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Matthew Morrison is set to star as the Grinch in a two-hour production of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical on NBC this December.

The theatrical event, set to air on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m., will be taped at London's Troubadour Theatre.

In addition to Morrison, who will play the curmudgeonly lead character, cast members include Denis O’Hare as old Max, Booboo Stewart as young Max and newcomer Amelia Minto as Cindy-Lou Who.

The cast will be rounded out by musical theater actors from London's West End.

"In what has been an extremely challenging year for us all, it is an honor to bring some holiday cheer into viewers’ homes this December,” Morrison said. “My wish is to bring some Who-ville magic to this holiday season and, while the pandemic presents some challenges in bringing a stage production to life, we are excited to present a unique version of this seasonal favorite in a new creative and imaginative way.”

Doug Vaughan, NBC Entertainment's executive vice president of special programs, added: “Dr. Seuss is an indelible part of all of our lives and we’re thrilled to bring a stage production of The Grinch Musical! to our audience. This is a perfect addition to our annual holiday program traditions and a telecast the entire family will enjoy.”

The musical, with book and lyrics by Tim Mason and music by Mel Marvin, will be staged by award-wining director Max Webster and directed for TV by BAFTA winner Julia Knowles, with additional script material by BAFTA-winning writer Simon Nye and featuring sets by designer Peter Bingemann.

The Grinch Musical will be NBC's first musical special since 2018's Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert. The network has faced diminishing returns from its live musicals, which started with a huge audience for The Sound of Music in 2013. It drew better than 18 million viewers, but no followup has come close.

NBC had announced plans for a live staging of Bye Bye Birdie starring Jennifer Lopez, but scheduling conflicts for Lopez meant it never got off the ground. A planned version of 1960s touchstone Hair was also scrapped in 2019. Live musicals are also expensive, leading broadcasters to debate the cost vs. the potential for a one-time boost in viewership.