The adorable mouse Stuart Little sails into fun and adventure at Adventure Theatre/MTC. Director Colin Hovde brings out the humor in the award-winning story by believing in the magic of everyday life. Imagination runs wild from the beginning with the actors engaging the audience as part of the story and enticing everyone to accept and celebrate the birth of a mouse as part of a human family.
Once all references to the word “mouse” are eliminated from nursery rhymes and stories in the household, everyone simply and fully accepts the interspecies phenomenon of Stuart Little. After a while, with a little help from the beloved script and terrific production, we all do, too.
From the beginning, Hovde works wonders with the actors portraying multiple characters sometimes at lightening speed, with just a gesture or a sound. They help narrate and glide into and out of scenes with ease.
Chris Dinolfo plays Stuart with a commanding sense of self laced with wonder and life-loving gusto. He has a sweet smile that could melt chocolate, or better yet, cheese, and maintains a steadfast composure throughout the ordeals. A gifted actor, Dinolfo gives Stuart a humble demeanor and confident appeal. With unshakeable principles of truth, care, honesty, and loyalty, Stuart Little will stop at nothing while facing life’s challenges, ignoring the obstacles of being a tiny mouse.
Stuart faces everything head-on, with an inner belief that the rightness of things will make it all work out. And it does, mainly because he’s unstoppably focused on doing the right thing. So what if he’s caught up in the pull shade curtain for so long he’s believed to be dead? Once he’s free, he bounces right back to his quest without missing a beat, to find and follow his dear friend, the lovely songbird Margalo, even if that leads far beyond his familiar terrain.
As his big brother George, Phil Reid has the physical prowess of a fun-loving circus clown. He bounces and hops with expressions of glee and menacing snarls in his various animal portrayals and is an all around source of fun. Reid could conduct a master class in character improvisation—his creation of the kitty Snowbell, who has ambivalent feelings about the beloved mouse in the house, is a treasure and a treat.
Stuart finds himself in all sorts of fun adventures, sailing a tiny boat, consulting a dentist, and even substituting as a teacher! Huh? A Mouse? Yes, he does, and once the students get past him being, well, what he is, they not only accept him but even learn valuable life lessons about treating each other with respect and kindness. Hovde has the actors explore and share tender moments fully expressed, with a whimsical delivery.
Closes October 26, 2014
Adventure Theatre MTC
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD
1 hour, no intermission
Saturdays and Sundays
Tracey Farrar plays Mom Little with abundance and energy, while Emily Zickler is the hapless bird Margalo who evades the menacing feline determined to take her down but who is plucky enough to bounce back from death’s door. Andrew Ferlo is another stand-out performer who brings depth to his portrayals rounding out the stellar ensemble.
The exquisite set by Klyph Stanford is a slightly bowed marvel of wooden slats, giving the impression of a gorgeously decorated hull of a ship. Prop decorations by the always remarkable Andrea “Dre” Moore suggest lots of fun and play, while trunks and old suitcases reflect a world of leisure filled with first class travel and adventure.
Generations of readers have been enthralled by the idea of a tiny mouse taking on, well, the world. Director Hovde brings such a world to life with tricks of scale and size, and the talented cast makes us care. When Stuart Little sets off following the bird songs of his dear friend Margalo, like Porgy crippling his way to find his Bess, does he find her and everything ends happily ever after? The cast asks that intriguing question that hangs in the air like the elusive bird song.
Stuart Little at Adventure Theatre/MTC is a slice of life and wonder where anything is possible with enough trust, care, and gumption.
Stuart Little . Based on the award-winning book by E.B. White . Adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette . Directed by Colin Hovde . Featuring Chris Dinolfo, Tracey Farrar, Emily Zickler, Andrew Ferlo, Philip Reid . Asst. Director: Elena Day . Set design: Klyph Stanford . Costume design: Kendra Rai . Props design: Dre Moore . Lighting design: Jason Arnold . Sound design: Matt Otto . Scenic charge: Karen Deans . Master Electrician: Lauren Evans . Stage manager: Donna Stout . Produced by Adventure Theatre/MTC . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.
Closes October 26
Jane Horwitz . Washington Post Start with a big, old-fashioned attic, cluttered with trunks and tennis rackets and hat boxes.
Amanda Gunther . TheatreBloom The 63rd season kicks off with a jubilant squeak
Benjamin Reiser . BroadwayWorld hilarious physical comedy
Julia L. Exline . DCMetroTheaterArts The story of Stuart Little (an energetic performance by Chris Dinolfo) is an interesting one…