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Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol at OFT

Olympia Family Theater presents a joyful ghost story for all ages

John Serembe as Ebenezer Scrooge and Zachary Clark as Tiny Tim, in Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol. Photo courtesy Olympia Family Theater

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Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol is a not-just-for-children adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic Christmas ghost story. Olympia Family Theater shortened the play to one hour plus a 15-minute intermission, reimagined all the scary stuff and used puppets for ghosts to make the tale child-friendly. Which it is. But it is equally and wonderfully enjoyable for adults thanks to terrific acting and singing, a delightful set (the design team of Jeannie Beirne, David Nowitz and Jill Carter), and Mark Gerth's non-scary puppets -- which don't have a lot of moving parts but look terrific.

The cast is headed up by the one and only John Serembe as Ebenezer Scrooge. It is highly unlikely that there has ever been a more loveable Scrooge. From his perfect timing to a range of voice and gesture from the subtlest (like blowing out an electronic candle) to the most histrionic (like his reactions when his door knocker turns into the ghost of Jacob Marley), Serembe makes acting the part of this bigger-than-life character seem as natural as downing a delicious mug of tap water. Yes, he even makes the simple act of drinking water hilarious.

In this version of the story, Tiny Tim (Zachary Clark) is 15 years old and no longer needs his crutch. He tells the story of what happened the night mean Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Be. It turns out it was all a trick played on the old man by Tim, his cousin Charlotte (Emma Thomas), and his friends the bookseller (Peter Rushton) and pie seller (James Wrede) and puppet seller (Andrea Weston-Smart), who pretend to be ghosts.

Clark, previously seen in Charlotte's Web, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and 3 Impossible Questions, is a 10th grader at River Ridge High School. He is excellent as a sweet, articulate and almost grownup Tiny Tim.

Thomas is also a youth actor, a student at Olympia High School. She is delightful as the teenage Charlotte.

Rushton and Wrede are each over-the-top funny with exaggerated voices and Cockney accents, and Weston-Smart is a natural as the London street vendor and puppeteer.

There are so many versions of A Christmas Carol that no matter where you may be there is sure to be one or more near you, so many in fact that Serembe has now played Scrooge in five different adaptations. This version by the writing team of Ken and Jack Ludwig and directed by Michael Christopher is one of the more enjoyable. It is a funny and heart-warming story filled with good holiday cheer, and it flows so quickly that it is over almost before you know it.

During the run of Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol, OFT is doing a Winter Coat Drive. Donated coats will be given to folks in the community who are without one. Most needed are youth and teen sizes. Bring a gently-used warm coat and get a concessions voucher.

TINY TIM'S CHRISTMAS CAROL, 7 p.m., Friday; 2 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, with one Thursday performance 7 p.m., Dec. 7, through Dec. 23, $15-$20, Olympia Family Theater, 612 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.570.1638, 

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