Tiny Tim has his say! It’s about time. The name conjures up images of a hapless waif, crippled, poor, unfortunate, tiny, at the mercy of the unscrupulous miserable miser Ebeneezer Scrooge. Ken Ludwig and son Jack Ludwig have empowered Tim with not only a voice of his own but revenge. Tim devises ways for street vendors to collectively give Scrooge his comeuppance in this charming version of the familiar story, A Christmas Carol.
Tim, played endearingly by Oliver Lankin, is energetic and resourceful as he yearns to release his father from the unrelenting and heartless demands of Scrooge. When his father is expected to work on Christmas Day, that’s the last straw. Tim goes into high gear in organizing the various poor street sellers to give Scrooge, a captivating Tom Harley, a lesson he won’t forget. All the usual motifs are present: ghosts transporting Scrooge into seeing versions of himself in years past, present, and future. What the Ludwigs do is infuse the message with humanity by having the street trio create the visions, using their wits, intuition, and trust in one another. With imagination and moxie, the characters use what’s in Scrooge’s own house for costumes and props and then present images and silhouettes to make Scrooge believe that he’s transported through time and space. Director Madeleine Smith keeps the humorous touches flowing, and the actors perform with gusto for a fun, madcap time.
Once he gets past the talking door knocker that stealthily appears in the likeness of his old colleague Marley, Scrooge settles into his nightly routine, dresses for bed, and enjoys his meal of watery gruel smacking his lips with relish (yuk!). When a loud, resonant bong for midnight (great sound effects by Matthew Trowbridge) jolts him awake, he meets his first apparition. For Christmas past, he watches and recalls enactors portraying his first love interest and how he shrank from her affection sinking into the mire of his work. Despondent and weary, he returns to bed only to be roused by the second image, the loving Cratchit family’s attempt to have a jolly gathering with meager provisions and worry about Tim’s worsening health.
The third vision is where the script twists into its own unique spin in depicting the ghost of the future. I remember when I saw the premiere of the play at Adventure Theatre MTC how struck I was by the creativity in depicting the old tale. Its mysterious premise was eerily haunting and the scene is just as effective in this production.
No spoiler here, you must see for yourself the ghostly apparition that unfolds a possible future for the miserly bah-humbug Ebeneezer Scrooge. After glimpsing the dismal scene, he begs to know if that is what must happen or if there’s any possibility of change. We know the answer, but it’s still a thrill watching the emotional metamorphosis when Eb understands how his everyday choices can make a difference, even between life and death.
When he wakes and discovers that he’s still in the present and has the opportunity to change his miserable future, Scrooge is overjoyed. Howley demonstrates the character’s ecstasy with downright giddy zeal. He jumps, prances, and shouts “Merry Christmas” to the rooftops. His jaunty cartwheel sends the audience over the top as Christmas carols fill the air. God bless you one and all, indeed, Tim.
Superb lighting by JK Lighting Design sets the mood and defines the spaces for the “ghosts” to tell the story. Jean Schlichting’s period costumes include hardy skirts and aprons for the women, men in waistcoats and top hats, with Scrooge in a gorgeous garnet house robe and matching obligatory stocking cap for his nocturnal ghost visitations.
Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol at the Little Theatre of Alexandria twinkles with fun and is a sparkling reminder of the old adage that kindness and caring can warm even the frostiest (and stingiest) hearts. Tickets for this popular crowd-pleaser are going fast, so enjoy the final week (Saturday shows are already nearly sold out).
Running Time: Approximately one hour with no intermission.
The program for Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol is online here.
COVID Safety: Little Theatre of Alexandria requires all persons attending performances to wear a mask indoors.
Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol
Written by Ken Ludwig and Jack Ludwig
Based on A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Directed by Madeline Smith
Tiny Tim/Young Scrooge: Oliver Lankin
Scrooge: Tom Howley
Ensemble: Eleni Ruiz, Adiya Koram, Pat Mahoney, Andrea Spitz
Scenic Design by Bridgid Kelly Burge
Costume Design by Jean Schlichting, Kit Sibley
Lighting Design by JK Lighting Design (Jeffrey Scott Auerbach and Kimberly Crago)
Sound Design by Matthew Trowbridge, Assisted by David Correia
Properties Design by Johanna Arredondo, assisted by Phyllis Johnson
Stage Management by Vera Worri