How The Grunch Cribbed Christmas

A One-Act Musical by the Tin-Can Brothers

Check out the show here:

As anyone who’s been paying attention to my internet presence for the last 11 months or so knows, I am an enormous fan of the internet-based musical theater company Team Starkid, and this love extends to several non-Starkid projects that involve some members of the group. One of these projects is the Tin-Can Brothers, a sketch comedy group started by actors Brian Rosenthal and Joey Richter, along with writer-director-producted Corey Lubowich, that has gone on to create full-length musicals, one-act plays, short-films, and a web series. I’ve really enjoyed a lot of their stuff, which is why I found their newest show: Why the Grunch Cribbed Christmas: A Solve-It Squad Musical to be so disappointing. Disappointing enough, in fact, to draw me out of my informal retirement and write a new review for the archives.

For those who don’t know, The Solve-It Squad Returns is a one-act play created and produced by the Tin-Can Brothers in 2017. It’s a riff on Scoobie Doo, and although it’s far from my favorite TCB project, it is undeniably delightful and a fun time if you’re looking for an uncomplicated comedic romp. This is the long-anticipated sequel to that show, and….I mean it’s not terrible? It certainly has some redeeming qualities which I will get to, but I’m sad to say that it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen come out of any of these groups.

First and foremost, I must acknowledge that, as always, the cast does a very good job. It’s clear that they all put in a lot of effort, and they give it their all. Lauren Lopez and Brian Rosenthal particularly stand out, but nobody does a bad job. The music is also pretty solid. Nick Gage (who composed the theme song for the first show, and the music for Starkid’s Holy Musical B@man) did a really nice job with it, and I hope he comes back to do more stuff for them in the future. There are also some seriously funny bits here and there, particularly from Esther (played by Lauren).

Unfortunately, that’s really where my praise runs out. My biggest problem with The Grunch is that the sound design is genuinely terrible. It’s super hard to hear what the cast are saying, even when they’re singing with mics, and to make matters worse, the Tin-Can Brothers released a digital ticket that didn’t have captions. I watched this show with people who have trouble with audio processing, and they were left with basically no way to enjoy even the parts of the show that worked. Hell, I had trouble figuring out what was going on at parts, and I usually don’t have all that many problems with these things (I spend my free time watching low quality bootleg and concert footage on Youtube, and I can normally pick up stuff from there). The show’s writing is also pretty lacking, and suffers from some of the worst pacing problems I’ve ever seen in a Tin-Can Brothers show.

This isn’t a very long review, but I just needed to express my disappointment to someone. These creators mean a whole lot to me, so it’s extra disappointing when they release something that’s not very good, especially when it involves an obvious misstep like not putting captions on a show with poor audio quality.

To give credit where credit was due, the ending twist was kinda clever.

Overall, I give How the Grunch Cribbed Christmas: A Solve-It Squad Musical a C

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