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BWW Review: A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES AND OTHER STORIES at Washington Stage Guild

BWW Review: A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES AND OTHER STORIES at Washington Stage Guild
Laura Giannareli and Vincent Clark in Washington Stage Guild's production of A Child's Christmas in Wales and Other Stories. Photo courtesy of Washington Stage Guild.

A modern day holiday season might include such activities as camping out at Walmart for a 3:00 AM special on a flat screen TV for $25.00 or playing with the latest electronic gadgets that are out there. DC's little jewel of a theater, Washington Stage Guild, takes us back to a time when people actually sat around the fireplace, told stories, sang Christmas carols and hymns and...wait for it...talked to each other with the delightful holiday offering A Child's Christmas in Wales and Other Stories.

Picture the scene: a homey living room (designed by Carl F. Gudenius and Kelvin Small) decked out for Christmas complete with fireplace and a fully decorated tree. Our storytellers Her/Him (Laura Giannarelli and Vincent Clark) enter singing a carol, as if to say, take off your shoes, sit on the floor, and get ready for stories of the season by some of our greatest laureates.

After a introductory poem by Louisa May Alcott called Merry Christmas it is time for the centerpiece of the show, Dylan Thomas' childhood tale of Christmas A Child's Christmas in Wales. The two performers do a fine job with multiple characterizations including young Dylan and his sister as they recount walking in the snow, causing mischief, and other family memories.

Also on the bill is Charles Dickens' What Christmas is as We Grow Older and King John's Christmas by Winnie the Pooh creator A. A. Milne. Add to the stories a Medieval Puzzle and the story behind Silent Night (and a chance to sing along), what you have is an endearing old time holiday theatrical experience.

Director/Adapter Bill Largess' direction has no pretention and lets the material breathe to its fullest potential.

Giannarelli and Clarke make a great team and remind you of your grandparents' story hour with warmth and fun.

Rhe'a Roland's simple Victorian costumes are perfect and Marianne Meadows' lighting makes us feel right at home in front of a Christmas tree and a roaring fireplace.

Frank Disalvo Jr's soundscape is minimal, but adds effect in all the right places.

The only distressing thing about this show is the small audience. At my performance there were only eight people and that is a real shame. Work of this quality deserves better attendance.

By all means, go see A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theatre, but don't forget about this smaller, but no less heartwarming production of A Child's Christmas in Wales and Other Stories at Washington Stage Guild. It's a true holiday treat for all ages.

Running Time: 65 minutes with no intermission.

A Child's Christmas in Wales and Other Stories runs through December 17, 2017 in the Undercroft at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church which is located at 900 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC.

For tickets, click here.


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