The Glee actor stars in Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical airing Wednesday on NBC

By Nicholas Rice
December 07, 2020 11:56 AM
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Dr. Suess' The Grinch Musical Matthew Morrison
Credit: David Cotter/NBC

Matthew Morrison is opening up about his experience of portraying the Grinch in the upcoming musical version of the classic holiday story.

While appearing virtually on the Today show Monday morning, the 42-year-old actor detailed the physical transformation he experienced while rehearsing his role as the famous holiday character in the musical special of Dr. Seuss' popular tale, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, airing on NBC Wednesday.

Talking to show co-host Al Roker, Morrison revealed that he dropped several pounds after wearing the big green costume. "I lost a lot of weight, honestly."

Explaining that his character now follows him everywhere, the actor joked around as a big green hand appeared on-screen attempting to grab him. The former Glee star then explained that "it was three and a half hours to get into the makeup" and "an hour to take it off."

"[But] I only had to do that about five times in total," Morrison told Roker, 66. "Cause we rehearsed this like a stage musical, like for a month. We [rehearsed] in a rehearsal space, and then we actually had two days of camera blocking and then two days of actual filming."

Morrison, whose previous stage credits include Hairspray and Finding Neverland, went on to share what he loved about playing the famous Grinch character, saying that the part is one where "anything kind of goes."

"You can be as big and as imaginative as possible," he said. "But honestly after not working for eight months, I was so excited and ready for the task. It was terrifying and it was thrilling and just liberating all at the same time."

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Morrison added that though filming the musical — which will air from the Troubadour Theatre in London — amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought its own set of challenges, it also gave him a new sense of appreciation for his craft as an actor.

"It was so counter-intuitive, everything about it," he said. "Having to wear the masks ... NBC was really great about the COVID protocols that we all went through."

The actor added: "... It wasn't until the last week where the masks actually had to go off and honestly it was kind of thrilling, as an actor, because you were seeing these people and their expressions, really, for the first time. So it really felt live and fresh."

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Dr. Seuss' beloved book tells the story of a reclusive Grinch who plotted from his Mt. Crumpit cave to steal Christmas from the Whos in Whoville. Then on Christmas Eve, disguised as Santa Claus and enlisting his dog Max as a reindeer, the Grinch traveled to Whoville to scoop up the Whos' gifts and decorations. Much to his surprise on Christmas morning, the Whos were unfazed and celebrated the holiday with a heartwarming display of joy and love.

This musical version — with book and lyrics by Tim Mason, music by Mel Marvin and featuring the Grinch classics "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas" — will breathe new life into this classic story with award-winning director Max Webster.

Last week, in a PEOPLE exclusive first look at the musical event, Morrison took fans behind-the-scenes of rehearsals, even showing a glimpse of the nearly four-hour process to transform into the famously green Grinch.

"[I have] a little nose prosthetic that they put on to make it more pronounced, and then they actually put prosthetics over my eyebrows," Morrison said in the clip showing the process. "Then we put the wig on. It's a cool experience!"

The live adaptation will also star Denis O'Hare as Old Max, Booboo Stewart as Young Max and Amelia Minto as Cindy Lou Who, among others.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical airs Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.