A Chicago holiday tradition, the Goodman Theatre celebrates its 35th Anniversary production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. While the story of the redemption of miser Ebenezer Scrooge by the spirits of Christmas past, present and future is familiar to all but the youngest in the audience, it’s the quality of this production at the Goodman Theatre that makes this a highly recommended part of the holiday celebration.
The Scrooge character is taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride by the aforementioned spirits, revisiting the pivotal moments in his life, with the hope that he will reflect on the person that he has become, and alter the trajectory of his life. Will he learn to have compassion and sympathy for his fellow man? Will he learn that there is more to life than the accumulation of riches? If you are among the few who have never seen A Christmas Carol, we will not spoil the ending. Suffice it to say that Ebenezer, and the audience go on quite a journey, and the spirit of Christmas prevails.
This production is a feast for the senses. The curtain rises on a busy street scene: tradesmen selling their wares, families out for a stroll, singing traditional Christmas carols and dancing to the music of the violin, accordion and French horn. The impressive sets and period Victorian costumes set the mood and transport us back in time to the London of Dickens’ day. Scrooge’s somber furnishings, Bob Cratchit’s humble abode, and the joyful party scene at Fezziwig’s establishments, are designed with exquisite detail, and help us to understand the psychological profile of these characters.
Reprising his role as Scrooge, Larry Yando gives a fine nuanced performance. The emotional transformation from the Scrooge at the start of the play, to the Scrooge after his visit by Marley and the ghosts is quite an amazing one, and Larry Yando plays both of these Scrooges to the full range of their personalities. One can sense in his performance that the miserly Scrooge is aware of his short-comings, and that the “other” Scrooge is hiding just underneath the surface, regretting the man he has become, but unable to change. There is also a subtle sense of humor that is evident in this Scrooge that keeps the role from becoming too overbearing.
As Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s kindly clerk, Ron Rains also is exceptional in his role. He plays the timid clerk to great comic effect in the office scenes with Scrooge, and plays the loving husband and father with warmth and sensitivity celebrating Christmas with his family. The supporting cast also shines, with some standout performances by Elizabeth Ledo and Penelope Walker in the roles of Christmas Past and Christmas Present, Michael Aaron Lindner and Ora Jones as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, and Demetrios Troy as Scrooge’s nephew Fred.
There were many children in the audience at this particular performance, most of them seeing Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the very first time, and all of them having a good time. By the expressions on their faces, it was obvious that they were very ‘into’ the story, the singing, the dancing and the special effects used to make the characters fly over London town. When all is said and done, this is the strongest endorsement of all to come downtown, and make the Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol a part of your family’s Christmas tradition.
A Christmas Carol is appearing now through December 29th, 2012 at the Goodman Theatre.
Written by Charles Dickens and Adapted by Tom Creamer
Directed by Steve Scott
Set Design by Todd Rosenthal
Costume Design by Heidi Sue McMath
Original Music Composed by Andrew Hansen
For tickets call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org
Tickets range from (25$ -82$).
Tuesdays: 7:30pm (No perf. 11/27 or 12/25)
Wednesdays: 7:30pm (2pm matinee on 12/26 Only)
Thursdays: 2pm (12/20and 12/27 Only), 7:30pm
Saturdays: 2pm and 8pm (No 8pm 12/29)
Sundays: 2pm and 6:30pm
Photos by Liz Lauren