At Vintage Theatre, ‘Who’s Holiday’ revisits Cindy Lou Who as an adult

Now playing at Aurora’s Vintage Theatre, Who’s Holiday is billed as “adults only” — and they aren’t kidding. It’s definitely not one to take the kids to this holiday season.
This is the story of an adult Cindy Lou Who, who has, well, had a bit of a bumpy road. The one-woman show stars Jenny Mather as a festively dressed Cindy Lou, talking to the audience as she awaits her Seussian party guests. Cindy speaks almost entirely in rhyme — a feat that I am sure is way harder than it looks.

Cindy has fallen upon hard times and is now living in a trailer park after taking up with the Grinch, who was just her “friend” until her 18th birthday. When the show starts out, the humor is along the lines of Miss Lucy Had a Steamboat. You know, where you almost, almost say bad words. But we all know what is implied when she’s cut off before she can say anything about the Grinch’s big, green rhymes-with-sock.

At first, I thought we were just in store for this kind of seventh-grade-boy humor (and with two sons and two stepsons, I have done my time there). And there’s nothing wrong with that, really. Why can’t we laugh as the adorable moppet from our childhood, the one who was not more than 2, uses very adult language?

But then something happens: Cindy Lou gets real, and suddenly she’s humanized (Who-manized?) Her life story becomes difficult and believable, and suddenly there you are, rooting for a Who with a green child. The ending is poignant and somehow more than anyone was expecting.

The performance is interactive and takes place in the area of the Vintage Theatre generally used for cabaret performances. It gives the show a dinner theatre sort of ambiance that is really fun. If you’re lucky, Cindy Lou will offer you one of her hors d’oeuvres; my companion sampled a pig in a blanket. The atmosphere is casual, and the audience is invited to hop up and get another drink at Vintage’s well-stocked bar if they so desire. The performance is relatively short, so there’s no intermission. The space really works well for the intimate performance.

Who's Holiday Jenny Mather

RDG Photography

Any one-actor show is highly dependent on the talents of the one actor, and Mather rises to the occasion here. She becomes Cindy Lou and makes it look fun and easy — when it’s clear it’s anything but. Could you rhyme on stage, alone, for over and hour? And make your character believable in her disappointment when Yertle the Turtle and the One Fish Two Fish family cancels on you? She does all that and more, and the audience was along for the ride, laughing until the story became more serious.

This time of year, everyone has a million demands on their attention and their time. But if you want a fun, festive, adults-only night out (your kids have plenty of time to learn what rhymes with sock later), Who’s Holiday is a fun ride that transcends its initial trashy premise. It feels heartening to see the humor and the story become … just a little bit more. Your heart might not grow three sizes bigger, but it might just grow one or two.