After 30 years in show business, Bob Lauder had to learn how to play a dog, specifically how to play Old Max the Dog in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. And most specifically of all: he had to learn how to control that tail.
It wasn't like he didn't have experience in anthropomorphism--that Disneylike tactic of blending human and animal features to make a character more likeable to an audience. He'd played The Cowardly Lion in a Los Angeles production of Wizard of Ozafter all. But the dog tail was bigger, shaggier and heavier than the lion version and he was having trouble making it go where he wanted while on stage.
"I had to learn how to move my body to make the tail go the way I wanted it to go," he told Art Attack. "Because they're not controlled electronically or anything. So what you have to do is learn how to move your tush back and forth just the right way to make it wag the way you want it to wag."
Grinch is coming to the Hobby courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars beginning November 24. There are some specially priced shows that couple an adult ticket with a free one for anyone under 18. The show is 85 minutes long ("Shorter than some other shows' first acts," Lauder said.)
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Lauder gets to sing the big song in the show: "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch." He even leads a sing-along later (the audience usually has the first verse nailed, but when they trot out the second, it gets a little iffier, Lauder says.)
The story of how Lauder got the part is interesting in its own right. The opening was posted on Facebook. Lauder wasn't immediately close to any of the cities where tryouts were being offered.
"I ended up doing my audition on the web cam on my lap top. It's amazing how far technology has come," he said laughing. When it came time for the call back, he did go in person to Los Angeles.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical Runs November 24 through December 5 at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For ticket information go to www.tuts.com.