Adventure Theatre MTC presents A Little House Christmas, based on the beloved book series of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie), and adapted by James DeVita. Recommended for ages 4+, Serge Seiden skillfully directs and choreographs this heartwarming production about the true meaning of Christmas, which has become my personal favorite holiday show that I have seen so far this season!
Scenic Designer Jake K. Ewonus transforms the stage into the interior of a beautiful log cabin, with fields of wheat set in the background. Slats of wood and frosted windows come together to make up the walls, and a large cobblestoned chimney rises up from a wood-burning stove, the likes of which frequent antique stores nowadays. The time is the late 1800’s, and this is cozily clear in the simple furniture and details, including a water jug and a ladder that leads to a sleeping nook. The era is also prominently shown in the costumes, designed by Kelsey Hunt. The women wear long, aproned dresses, shawls, and have their hair plaited in long braids, and the men suspenders and vests. Wealthier characters sport fancier clothes that are more detailed, and have bouncy, polished curls peeking beneath fancy bonnets. Lighting Designer Sarah Tundermann shows the time of the day with her lighting, using warm oranges for evenings and bright yellows for mornings. Sound Designer Kenny Neal pairs the sound of crickets with the later hours, as well as effects like sleigh bells, thunder, and heavy rain.
The play begins with Ma Ingall (Hyla Matthews) baking cookies and making Christmas decorations with her daughters, the sweet-mannered Mary (Maya Brettell) and her younger, feisty sister Laura (Katie Littleton). They are preparing for company to come in from town, and laugh and joke around with their spirited father, Pa Ingall (Robbie Gay). Together, they are the picture of a happy family, filled with love, laughter, and support. Visitors Mrs. Oleson (Stephanie Svec) and her daughter Nellie (Caroline Coleman) bring a little tension with them, as they are much wealthier…and it shows. Laura and Nellie struggle to get along, while more guests arrive: a jovial Mr. Edwards (Danny Pushkin) and Pa Ingall’s painfully shy and anxious brother, George (Jonathan Feuer), who has been touched by his time in the war. Mr. Ingalls tells animated stories to the children as they share a meal together, and then plays the fiddle in a memorable dance scene. The party is spiritedly, with the exception of George hanging back from the fun. Will a few kind words of encouragement from Laura help get him into the holiday spirit?
The fun is not meant to last, however, as a dangerous storm crashes their party and sends their guests home early. It is unrelenting, and causes the creek to overflow in the following days, effectively cutting off their only path into town. Mary and Laura worry when they realize that Santa may not be able to reach their house on Christmas Eve. In a touching moment, the girls learn the true meaning of Christmas, selflessness, and love, and a surprising twist on Christmas morning reinforces these feelings.
I loved everything about this production! The set is beautiful, and the talented cast all work together seamlessly. This show leaves you with a feeling of comfort and warmth, which is what Christmas is all about!
Get into the holiday spirit this year, and bring your children to see A Little House Christmas. You’ll love it as much as they will!
Running Time: One hour without an intermission.
A Little House Christmas runs through December 31, 2012 at Adventure Theatre MTC – 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo Park, in Glen Echo, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301) 634-2270, or order them online.