The Grinch makes a pitch

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 1, 2001

He’s been called a bad banana with a greasy black peel.

Saturday, December 01, 2001

He’s been called a bad banana with a greasy black peel. Some wouldn’t choose him over a seasick crocodile.

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The Grinch, however, put his nasty reputation aside Friday and came to Albert Lea with a different mission.

He came on behalf of the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, which is hoping to raise $12 million in private donations, and an equal amount from the state, to pay for a renovation and expansion of its home building.

The theatre is performing &uot;How the Grinch Stole Christmas&uot; to near-sellout crowds this Christmas season in Minneapolis, and is also in the middle of its annual tour of more than 100 stops around the Midwest, including more than 20 in rural Minnesota.

&uot;When you heard that someone green was going to speak today, you probably thought it was the coach of the Vikings,&uot; the Grinch told the Albert Lea noon Rotary Club. &uot;Well, I couldn’t coach that team.&uot;

Decked out in his Santa Claus suit, the green guy had some fun with the crowd, but also had a message about the importance of the Children’s Theatre Company.

&uot;Children’s theatre is a very important part of the cultural infrastructure of the state of Minnesota,&uot; he said during an interview earlier in the day.

The Minneapolis-based theater company is the premier children’s performing group in the nation, the foul one said.

The group wants to refurbish the seats and stage in its theater, plus add classrooms, rehearsal rooms and a new flexible theater that would allow performances geared toward teens, said the Grinch, who was traveling with public-relations representative Carrie Carlson.

&uot;This is the first time, and probably the last time, we’ll go to the state and ask for this sort of thing,&uot; the Grinch said.

The theatre is dedicated to education, he said, pointing to the regional tour, during which the group not only performs, but also visits schools and teams up with teachers.

&uot;The number one mission of the state of Minnesota is education, and at the core of Children’s Theatre Minnesota’s mission is education,&uot; said the mean one.

The touring performance hasn’t visited Albert Lea in several years, but Carlson said she’s heard some interest in bringing them here next year.

The pair also visited Austin Friday before swinging back through Albert Lea to address a Chamber of Commerce gathering.

As for the Grinch, he’s planning more stops across the state to get the word out about the company. And he’s making sure to stay in character by being at least a little grouchy.

&uot;I’m tired of all these impersonators,&uot; he said with a scowl when asked about Jim Carrey. &uot;Although, he is a big star, and green is a good look.&uot;