NORTH OGDEN -- It didn't take long for the students in Sandy Brown's third-grade class at Majestic Elementary to be mesmerized by reading tutor and volunteer Bryce Taylor's rendition of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas."
Taylor, who volunteers at the school a few times a week to read to students, approached school leaders about bringing a reader's theater of the popular book to the student body. Taylor put the reader's theater together many years ago and loved performing it with students whenever he can.
The unique thing about this play, which he has been performing for more than 900 students, is that he has brought along a special visitor for most of his performances -- his 94-year-old mother who suffers from dementia.
Taylor started caring for his mom on a full-time basis about four years ago when her condition grew worse. He had gone through a divorce and lost his job in Chicago, so when his brother brought up the idea that he care for their mother, he thought it would be a good idea.
Taylor found, however, that sometimes he needed a break from care-giving. When some of his church leaders at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told him about a volunteer opportunity at Majestic, he investigated that opportunity.
Taylor said he often gets a hospice nurse to come in and sit with his mother while he volunteers. On some days, however, that doesn't work out, he said, so rather than disappoint the kids he brings her along.
Jenny Smith, a reading coordinator for the Read Today program at the school, said she was moved watching Taylor care for his mom and work so hard for the students.
"I just think it has been amazing to watch," Smith said. "She has just been so good and it is amazing that he just comes and does that for all of us."
As far as the quality of his show -- everyone seems to love it.
"Dude, that was freaking awesome," one student said as he hurriedly ran to check out a book after the reader's theater.
Taylor said he has worked in theater for much of his life and calls it his "addiction."
"It's just a way to get me in the mood for Christmas," Taylor said of putting the show together.
He started performing the show when his own children were small and tries to perform it somewhere each year during the holidays. He has enjoyed doing it at Majestic because he has come to know and love the kids there.
The students laughed and giggled as Taylor repeated each word of the beloved book with much flair. Some students said the words right along with him. As he pulled some students out of the audience they squealed with delight as he placed antlers or ribbons on their heads to depict what character they would be. Two students served as a "chimney" as Taylor climbed between their arms to go up and down the chimney gathering up all the toys.
Eight-year-old Matthew Putnam played the part of Max the Dog.
"It was really funny when he did all that stuff," Putnam said.
He and classmate Kallie Gibby have participated in reader's theaters at the Treehouse Children's Museum before and they loved having the chance to do it at their own school.
"It is really something when you have someone so willing to give of their time with such great talents," Smith said of Taylor and his ability. "It just makes you feel good to watch."