Silver Spring Stage’s production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol is a fun, family-friendly take on Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Written by Ken and Jack Ludwig, this 2015 play has Tiny Tim and his friend Charlotte teaching miserly Scrooge a lesson about the Christmas spirit, enlisting all their friends’ help to play a role. Directed by Jim Robertson, the show is a treat for children and adults.
Asher Howell plays Tiny Tim as a great schemer. He races into Scrooge’s office to advise his father Bob (Peter Rouleau) to leave before Scrooge (Andrew Greenleaf) returns. He calls out Scrooge for treating his father so poorly, then races out. Coming up with a plan, he sneaks into Scrooge’s bedroom, hiding himself and guiding the others into their roles, as well as helping to direct Scrooge. Narrating the story, he keeps the suspense going. He conveys panic well when parts of the plan haven’t been fully realized, then races out when things take an unexpected turn.
Anna Uehlein plays Charlotte, Tiny Tim’s friend and the daughter of Scrooge’s nephew Fred (Peter Orvetti), with a passionate independence. She applauds Fred’s speech to Scrooge, joining Tim in admonishing Scrooge for his treatment of Bob. Knowing Scrooge’s history, she plants the seeds for Tim’s plan. There are great comic moments when she pops up behind Scrooge’s bed to protest, only to quickly hide herself again.
Andrew Greenleaf plays Scrooge as a grouchy curmudgeon, denouncing all forms of charity and Christmas cheer. He engages the audience by asking them who believes that “children should not be given presents ever?” When the door knocker transforms, he looks surprised, and he jumps out of bed at the spirits’ appearances. At the end, he gives a powerful performance, begging the spirits to let him change his life. With the Cratchits, he emotionally begs for forgiveness, and asks to help care for Tiny Tim. Stooped for most of the play, at the end he leaps and laughs in merriment.
Peter Rouleau gives a quiet strength to Bob Cratchit, softly yet firmly appealing for holiday hours. As Fezziwig, he is light and fun. Wendy Drescher plays Mrs. Cratchit with a fierceness, speaking her mind about Scrooge when Bob proposes a toast for him. When Scrooge appears at their home, she wields a ladle. Nessa Amherst plays the Puppet Seller with an eagerness, showing off her puppets.
As Fred, Peter Orvetti brings a joy that is undiminished by Scrooge’s humbug. He gives a humor to Jacob Marley, trying several times to wake up Scrooge. His facial expressions comically comment on Scrooge’s initial disbelief in him. His speech, “Mankind was my business,” is passionately given.
Riley Cruickshank plays the Book Seller with great enthusiasm, eagerly selling knowledge and entertainment from her basket of books. As the Ghost of Christmas Past, she appears spiritual, guiding Scrooge through his sad childhood. Edwina Neely plays Hollyfoot with vigor, passionately defending charity to the unimpressed Scrooge. As the Ghost of Christmas Present, she is a powerful guide, throwing back Scrooge’s own words about prisons and workhouses, while also throwing in some comedy over a confusion between “present” and “present.”
Kieran Allan Hadley plays Young Scrooge with a deep sadness. He first appears sitting in a corner, silently looking abandoned. Dina Howell plays his beloved Belle with lightness and joy. At first, Hadley is attentive towards Howell, dancing with her. Later, hunched over a desk, working out figures, he is short and unkind towards her, consumed with making money. Howell tries hard to engage with him, then angrily storms off.
Nick Sampson plays the Gravedigger with a breeziness. He chats with Scrooge while shoveling, remarking on how surprising it was that no one was at the funeral of the man he just buried. Speaking about the fate of those who are unkind, he draws close to Scrooge, becoming menacing, before slipping back into his easy manner. He also plays the voice of an unexpected guest with a supernatural cadence.
The set, designed by Joy Wyne, is simple but effective, with a small desk and stool on the far-left hand side for Scrooge’s office, while on the far right is a table with a cloth and chairs for the Cratchit’s home. Back in the center is a bed and night tables. In front of the bed is a door with a knocker.
Costume Designer Jim Hoobler constructs period-appropriate outfits, which help distinguish the characters. Tiny Tim wears a tan jacket and top hat, while Scrooge wears a blue coat and black hat, later changing to a white nightshirt and red dressing-gown. Jacob Marley wears a white tunic and chains wrapped around his chest. The Ghost of Christmas Past has on a white tunic and laurels, while the Ghost of Christmas Present has a green cloak and gold laurels. The Puppet Seller wears a gray cloak, and the Book Seller wears a tan jacket. The Gravedigger wears a gray jacket and cap.
Lighting Designer Bill Strein uses creative lighting effects to set the mood and break up the stage. Spotlights shine on the different parts of the stage as they are used. Green lights shine during Jacob Marley’s appearance, giving him a ghostly glow. Colored lights shine around Scrooge’s bed during a surprising part of the show. Sound Designer Nick Sampson throws out music and spooky sounds, giving one character a deep, supernatural-sounding voice.
Jim Robertson does a great job as Director. The actors navigate the stage and each other easily, and the child actors work well with the adults. They all hit the comic scenes as well as the more emotional moments, easily delivering Dickens’ famous lines.
Running Time: Approximately one hour, with no intermission.
Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol played through December 22, 2019 at Silver Spring Stage, 10145 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. For tickets to upcoming shows, call the box office at 301-593-6036 or purchase them online.