Hans Brinker, New Tuners Theatre, at the Theatre Building. Returning after a two-year absence, this 1994 musical draws its storytelling power from Mary Mapes Dodge's 1865 classic, about a poor but plucky Dutch boy who can only afford wooden skates. Jane Boyd's faithful dramatization is given a holiday spin by Philip Seward and John Sparks's sturdy songs, including a chorale to Saint Nicholas, the delightful "In the Spirit of the Season," and a lament by bad boy Carl to the "coals in his klompen" (wooden shoes). Choreographer Linda Parsons labors to make sliding and striding pass for skating and spinning, and we obligingly buy the illusion.
Eric Jorgensen brings a saving humility to the brave and worthy Hans, a part so clean it squeaks. Peter W. Tinaglia's mischievous rich brat Carl offers a strong contrast, and Stephanie Ann Seale nicely registers the resentment Hans's sister feels over their father's injury. Under director Sparks, the supporting roles hum with crisp efficiency, though there's more mugging than in previous productions.