Adventure Theatre MTC opens their 63rd (wow!) season with Stuart Little, based on the award-winning children’s book by E.B. White and adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette. Colin Hovde directs this production, following an adventurous small mouse around a very big city!
That city is New York, circa 1945. Scenic Designer Klyph Stanford makes sure that towering skyscrapers are seen through the windows of a cluttered attic– large trunks and pieces of luggage are placed around forgotten pieces of furniture. Filled with a hodge-podge of artifacts and heirlooms, the setting is a treasure-hunter’s dream. Discreetly placed props throughout the setting make it possible for the characters to turn the space into a wide variety of different settings as the plot unfolds, including visits to Central Park and 5th Avenue!
Lighting Designer Jason Arnold and Sound Designer Matt Otto work together to bring these settings to life with effects such as bright sunshine and blaring city traffic. The era that this story takes place in is mostly seen in the costumes by Kendra Rai; house dresses, argyle sweater vests, and crisply-cut suits. Accessories are used for the animals, including a fluffy white coat for a cat, a vibrant feathered hat for a bird, and of course, mouse ears and a tail for Stuart. Since there is a lot of movement and character changing in the show, the costumes are a bit minimal, but they are imaginative and fun!
The story of Stuart Little (an energetic performance by Chris Dinolfo) is an interesting one– a mouse born into a human family, who strive to raise him as one of their own without special treatment. Stuart’s size is cleverly shown through use of props, designed by Dre Moore. In one instance, Stuart fishes his mother’s (Tracey Farrar as Mrs. Little) wedding ring out of the plumbing– to him, it is the size of a bicycle tire, but then the view is shifted to his mother happily walking about the room, holding her hand aloft and admiring her returned ring. Stuart gets involved in a number of escapades that challenge him, including a sailboat race and dog chase. However, his main adventure comes when his family takes in an injured bird named Margalow (Emily Zickler, who does a fantastic job with this character). Stuart and Margalow share an instant bond, but their friendship (or dare I say, romance?) is threatened when Margalow is scared off by the family cat Snowbell (an animated Philip Reid), who is intent on capturing her! And so, Stuart sets out in search of his friend. Never before phased by his size, Stuart faces new challenges and obstacles that make him consider his place in the world. He is basically a needle looking for another needle in one giant haystack. What will he do?
The ensemble here is great and the direction proves very solid. The actors put a ton of energy into their roles, which are extensive. Everyone but Stuart plays a number of different characters, and sometimes at break-neck speed. Andrew Ferlo does a particularly fine job with this challenge as Mr. Little, a dentist named Dr. Carey, and others.
Adventure Theater MTC’s Stuart Little is a great choice for the family because it appeals to all ages. For a fun back-to-school treat, Stuart Little delivers!
Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Stuart Little plays through October 26, 2014 at Adventure Theatre-Musical Theatre Center in Glen Echo Park— 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets call the box office at (301) 634-2270 or purchase them online.