My family loves to watch multiple versions of the “Christmas Carol.” I enjoy Bill Murray in “Scrooged.” My dad likes Henry Winkler in “An American Christmas Carol.” My mom’s fave is Michael Caine in “The Muppets Christmas Carol.” Over the holidays, we watch them all! It’s our annual tradition.
Goodman Theatre presents its own annual tradition, CHRISTMAS CAROL. Ebenezer Scrooge chooses money over everything: a woman’s love, a nephew’s kindness, the community’s need. He’s a penny-pinching miser. He’s in danger of being damned for eternity. His business partner doesn’t want that to happen. So, Jacob Marley holds an intervention. Marley enlists the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to rock Scrooge’s world. Before the night is over, Scrooge must own his destructive behavior and learn to celebrate the holiday. A little boy’s life depends on it. CHRISTMAS CAROL is Goodman’s annual gift to Chicago. This classic always fits, no gift exchange required!
Chicago Shakes’ Bob Mason told me once that every Chicago actor does a holiday season on the Goodman’s stage. It’s so true! The cast list is a virtual who’s who in theatre. This year boasts Julia Childs from “To Master the Art”, Queen Charlotte from “The Madness of George III,” and Tam from “The Homosexuals.” For theatre goers, it’s a memory game. I remember him from American Theatre Company. She was on Lookingglass’ stage. He was excellent in “Candide.” And he was! Larry Yando (Scrooge) leads the local celebrity pageantry. Yando brings subtle humor to the miserable old Scrooge. *Spoiler Alert* In his retransformation scenes, Yando charms with a playful innocence. There was a particularly powerful end scene with his nephew (Joe Minoso) and the nephew’s wife (Sandra Delgado). Yando’s humility combined with Delgado’s acceptance and Minoso’s forgiveness left me weeping. Later, Yando and Ron Rains (5-year Bob Cratchit veteran) amusing encounter solicits a chorus of awwwws from the row behind me. And speaking of adorable moments, Roni Akurati (Tiny Tim) is a little pint of Christmas spirit. A cute Akurati musters up a big voice for his signature line.
Under the direction of Steve Scott, this year’s production is paced to perfection. The gorgeous Dickens Village created by Todd Rosenthal rolls in and out seamlessly. Compared to last year’s show, the 2011 CHRISTMAS CAROL is tighter and more frolicsome. Since its days on Columbus Drive, I’ve been enjoying the Goodman’s annual tradition. Every production has its own unique feel and different variation of local talent. (Sidenote to Bob Falls: What about Ora Jones for Scrooge next year? She would be awesome!) What can be always said of Goodman, that they ‘knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!’
Radiating holiday cheer, my cousin Jennie describes it with ‘sweet, funny and Christmasy.’
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes includes an intermission.
At Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Tom Creamer
Directed by Steve Scott
Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon and 7:30pm
Wednesdays at 7:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm
Sundays at 6:30pm
Thru December 30th
Buy Tickets at www.goodmantheatre.org