There are pros and cons to wearing an elaborate furry green Grinch costume around town.

 

"When I walk down the street dressed this way, people are either delighted or they think I'm trying to get attention," says Jeff McCarthy, who plays the viridescent title character in "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas."

 

Public appearances are part of the job, meaning McCarthy frequently has to don the complicated outfit, full makeup and all.

 

"When I put this costume on, it unleashes all sorts of primal things," says the performer. "I'm suddenly anonymous. But there's also something about this animal that I'm wearing that makes me fearless."

McCarthy has been in about 250 theater productions. He's played a fair share of truly evil villains, and he says he doesn't think the Grinch is a such a bad guy.

 

"He's just jealous of all the Whos enjoying each others' company and enjoying Christmas," explains McCarthy, who excuses the greedy Scrooge for attempting to steal the holiday from Whoville. "I think he just needs a good hug."

And he does receive affection, eventually -- in the musical and in real life.

"When I go out, children are scared to death of me at first," says McCarthy. "But within a few minutes usually they want to sit on my lap and hug me."



The Grinch lights up the town




Want to gape (or cower) at the Grinch while he’s out and about town? Catch him at the Boston Common Tree Lighting ceremony on Nov. 29.



‘Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas’

Nov. 23-Dec. 9

Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston,

617-482-9393

www.citicenter.org