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BWW Reviews: Adventure's Premiere of TINY TIM'S CHRISTMAS CAROL Delights

Ah, the Christmas season is upon us! For the theater and ballet-going public, that means numerous productions of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and probably more than a few Nutcracker offerings to choose from. It can get a bit much, admittedly. At Adventure Theatre MTC, in one single production, one can get the traditional mixed with the new. To that end, its world premiere production of Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol stands out from many of the rest even on paper. Adapted from the Charles Dickens classic by Tony Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig and his son, Jack Ludwig, and directed by one of DC's finest, Jerry Whiddon, this show is a pure delight - and not just for kids.

We meet a healthy Tiny Tim (Chris Dinolfo) five years after that fateful year when Scrooge (Conrad Feininger) had a change of heart. He wants to share with us exactly how that transformation came about. Turns out, he, Scrooge's great niece Charlotte (Brittany Martz), and a few other friends with creative talents (played by Megan Dominy, Phil Reid, and Danny Pushkin) had something to do with creating the circumstances that allowed Scrooge an opportunity to examine his life and what he values. In grand theatrical tradition - and aided by Dan Conway's festive and creative set, Collin Ranney's costumes, and Martha Mountain's lighting, in particular - they create a world that forces Scrooge to expand his myopic view of "money above everything else." The ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future are all there, but Tiny Tim and his friends are the ones pulling the strings in more ways than one.

The small ensemble cast achieves what's a bit of a rarity in productions largely geared toward the youngest of theatregoers. Under the skilled hand of Jerry Whiddon, all six actors bring the energy and excitement that's necessary to attract the attention of a young child, but don't deliver over-the-top and campy performances that are devoid of any human quality even in the most comedic moments. This approach is well-suited to the Ludwigs' script. It too provides an endearing story that's accessible to the younger audience members without relying too much on jokes or physical humor to grab their attention. Yet, it is also sophisticated enough that adults can find something to like, be it the underlying message or the way in which Ludwig draws attention to the challenges and joy of creating theatre, or both.

Strong acting certainly abounds. While Feininger has the meatiest of all of the roles - and he captures everything you'd like to find in a strong portrayal of Scrooge - all of the actors are a key ingredient for the success of the production. Martz has this 'young woman that's wise beyond her years' quality that's particularly essential for the role of Charlotte and Dinolfo exudes hope and determination as Tiny Tim. Dominy, Reid and Pushkin's comedy skills are also put to good use.

In this production, all of the elements come together - strong acting, direction, and script, as well as strong production values that enhance the telling of the story. It's one to check out to be sure, even if you're not bringing the kids along.

Running Time: 50 minutes with no intermission.

"Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol" plays at Adventure Theatre MTC at Glen Echo Park (7300 MacArthur Blvd in Glen Echo, MD) through January 1, 2015. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 301-634-2270.

Photo: Conrad Feininger as Scrooge and Phil Reid as the Ghost of Christmas Past (by Bruce Douglas)

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