The best thing about the Children's Theatre of Arlington's production of "Ransom of Red Chief" is the children -- both on stage and in the audience. Everyone involved enjoys the show.

The Children's Theatre allows young persons to perform under professional quality circumstances. The sets are functional and colorful. Costumes are well-conceived and authentic.

"Ransom of Red Chief," based on O. Henry's short story, is a light and amusing tale set in the small town of Summit, Ala., where the quiet life is often disturbed by the mischievious antics of little Johnny Dorset, "a two-legged skyrocket of a kid".

Johnny is kidnapped by two con men who hope for a large ransom for his return. However, the plot twists around and the kidnappers eventually pay Johnny's mother to take the little terror off of their hands.

The stars of the show are Greg Melia as Johnny Dorset, Laura Kelso as Widow Dorset and George Bartlett and John Blacksten as kidnappers Sam and Bill. The entire cast is a talented and enthusiastic group.

The audience is made up largely of children 12 and under. It is a pleasant mix of entertainment by and for children.

Presented March 25, 26, and 27 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater, 125 S. Old Glebe Rd., Arlington. Friday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday performances are at 3 p.m. The Saturday, March 26, performance will be interpreted for the deaf. For more information, call 558-2165.