Review: JUMANJI Soars to Life at Adventure Theatre MTC

"Wow! This is amazing!"

That was the sentiment summed up by a young theatergoer sitting behind me at Adventure Theatre MTC's recent adventurous production of Jumanji. Based on the Caldecott Medal winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, the show tells the story of two kids left home alone in their new house and discover a board game that comes to life as they roll the dice. The 1981 book was famously turned into a 1995 movie starring Robin Williams, but the plot of the play is closer to the original book than the movie, although the premise is the same.

Adapted for the stage by Sandra Eskin and ATMTC Artistic Director Michael Bobbitt, it is an adventure for both the audience and the team behind the onstage magic. The show, which clocks in just shy of an hour, kept the children in the audience at the seat of the pants in large part due to the impressive puppets by Andrea "Dre" Moore. Ms. Moore always seems to outdo herself with each production she designs and these animals come to life with her creative magic. The sprawling set by Luciana Stecconi is perfect in the intimate space. Jungle master and director, Serge Seiden, uses the space so well and puts Ms. Moore's puppets to use through his almost ballet-like direction of bringing these animals to life.

The main cast, the children, played by Ryan Carlo and Billie Krishawn, are great as the fighting siblings who come together to win the game, and bring great personalities to the roles. The "adult" cast, who also are the puppeteers, are played with gusto by Julia Klavans, Jacob Yeh, and Elan Zafir. As their characters they each bring a certain charm to their adult counterparts, but their true mastery is in their puppeteering, and giving these animals personalities.

I've said before that the quality work that is being done at Adventure Theatre MTC is and should be on par with any other professional theater in town and even though Jumanji is intended for a younger crowd, everyone who goes will share that young child's review... "Wow! That was amazing!"

Jumanji plays through August 28, 2016 at Adventure Theatre MTC in Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, MD 20812.

Box Office: (301) 634-2270 or online

Photo Credits: Michael Horan



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