BWW Review: Adventure Theatre Delivers A LUMP OF COAL FOR CHRISTMAS
If you are a child at Christmas time, getting a lump of coal in your stocking is probably the worst gift that you could imagine. However, if the lump of coal is in the form of Erin Weaver's electrifying performance in Lump of Coal, currently playing at Adventure Theatre - MTC, then you got the perfect gift.
In a premier production, playwright Norman Allen takes the story by Lemony Snicket and expands it to a fun performance that every child and their chaperones will enjoy. At the heart of the story is the Lump of Coal, played by Ms. Weaver, who is normally known to adult audiences at Signature and Arena, here she introduces herself to the young audiences and keeps them in the palm of her hand. From her big voice belting out holiday classics in various styles to her witty banter with the young ones in the crowd, Ms. Weaver shows that she excels in whatever role she tackles, whether human or mineral.
Equally as strong in her performance, is Judith Ingber in the trio of roles as director, chef, and gallery owner. Of the adults in the cast, Ms. Ingber was the only performer I was not familiar with, and I'm pretty sure that Washington audiences will be seeing more of her. Her ability to switch characters while not playing caricatures is a true delight and she has a great soprano voice as well.
The two guys of the cast, Eric Messner as Uncle Otis and Sammy Strent as the young Rufus both add to the fun of the performance and drive the story along and unfortunately for them, don't get as much of the fun as Ms. Weaver and Ms. Ingber. Messner, no stranger to Theatre For Young Audiences, is nicely cast as Uncle Otis, who is expended on from the original story. Young Mr. Strent shares the role of Rufus with Kevin Grieco, and it's always nice to see an actual child play a child on stage and he gives a great performance as well.
DC Theatre stalwart Holly Twyford, last seen as a pancake eating pig at ATMTC, this time serves as the play's director and does a great job getting this cast of exceptional performers to really tell a charming story while captivating the young ones in the audience. On a technical note, Andrea "Dre" Moore's props and exceptional puppets are great here and I really enjoyed Hannah Marsh's projection design.
Overall, this is a production full of highlights that is a great introduction for young children to experience live theater, but also to experience some of the best theater professionals working today.
A Lump of Coal plays through December 31, 2015 at Adventure Theater MTC in Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, MD 20812.
Box Office: (301) 634-2270 or online
Photo credits: Michael Horan