"A Christmas Carol" (Goodman Theatre): Charming and Radiantly Entertaining

"A Christmas Carol" (Goodman Theatre): Charming and Radiantly Entertaining

Reviewed by Jeanette Hamel

A Christmas Carol, playing for its 35th season at the Goodman Theatre, is the best present you can get for your family (and yourself) and is a delightful introduction to the holidays.  From lovely rendition of period appropriate Christmas Carols that greet you before the show (thank you Benet Academy Choir) to the beautiful sets reminiscent of a charming mantletop Christmas village, one feels transported to the 1843 London setting immediately.

Everyone knows Charles Dickens’ famed story of a miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who has a nocturnal visit from four “spirits” and is given a new lease on life in the process.  Not unlike Titanic, where the ship sinking is inevitable and well known, to see A Christmas Carol (especially THIS rendition) is powerful experience even if you think you know the story.  There are far too many nuances of this special production to mention…the emotions generated were a surprise…outbursts of laughter, moments of fear, episodes of sorrow and tears and joyful celebration.

One reason that *THIS* A Christmas Carol is so special is, no doubt, thanks to the incredible talents of Larry Yando, reprising his role as Ebenezer Scrooge for the 5th time.  Odious, hateful, loathsome, obnoxious, abhorrent are just a few words used to describe Larry Yando’s Mr. Scrooge…he’s definitely a mean one, as Mr. Grinch would say.  And at the same time, he is able to deliver his “zingers” and “humbugs” with a comedic twist that makes *THIS* A Christmas Carol especially entertaining.  His conveyance of irritation, annoyance, anger, fear, terror, dread and finally childlike jubilation makes Yando’s Mr. Scrooge a character with so much depth that one cannot help but truly care about him. His transformation becomes one filled with audience participation and everyone rooting for him to overcome his “bad self” and find the joy that only comes from giving – a truly ageless and timeless holiday story.

While Yando’s performance is spectacular, he is not alone in bringing A Christmas Carol to life.  Ron Rains (Bob Cratchit) has the audience by the heartstrings from the beginning.  As the bumbling and quite hysterical assistant to Yando’s Scrooge, he provides much needed comic relief to the overbearance of the star’s character.  He also brings humanity and great compassion as a husband, family man and Tiny Tim’s dad.   Equally endearing were the many characters needed to forge together the storyline – Demetrios Troy as Fred, Mr. Scrooge’s nephew, who taught Mr. Scrooge that family is family “no matter what,”  Matthew Abraham as the saddest and most pathetic Tiny Tim, and Michael Aaron Lindner and Ora Jones as the party throwing, fun loving Fezziwigs.

A Christmas Carol cannot be complete without a proper haunting from several spirits, and this production delivered it well.  The truly terrifying “visitations” of Joe Foust as Jacob Marley and Jordan Brown as Ghost of Christmas Future has chilling special effects that leave observers more than a little shaken.  And there are the enchanting “visitations” of Elizabeth “Aren’t You Too Bright to Be a Ghost” Ledo (Ghost of Christmas Past) with her Peter Pan-esque aerial acrobatics and Penelope Walker (Ghost of Christmas Present) sprinkling the world with her magic sparkles.

A Christmas Carol is a festive and magical performance of a timeless classic!  Charming and radiantly entertaining – highly recommended for the whole family!

Running time 2 hours with 15 minute intermission

Written by Charles Dickens and Adapted by Tom Creamer

Directed by Steve Scott

November 17 through December 29, 2012

For tickets call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org

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