Theater Review: A Christmas Carol—A continuing family tradition

Pictured in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, directed by William Brown are (top to bottom) John Babbo (Tiny Tim) and Larry Yando (Ebenezer Scrooge). A Christmas Carol begins performances on November 20 (Opening Night is November 29) and runs through December 31 in the Goodman's Albert Theatre. For ticket information, visit GoodmanTheatre.org or call 312.443.3800.   Photo by Liz Lauren.
Pictured in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, directed by William Brown are (top to bottom) John Babbo (Tiny Tim) and Larry Yando (Ebenezer Scrooge). A Christmas Carol begins performances on November 20 (Opening Night is November 29) and runs through December 31 in the Goodman's Albert Theatre. For ticket information, visit GoodmanTheatre.org or call 312.443.3800. Photo by Liz Lauren.

By Edith McCauley

Theater Critic

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, first staged at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre 32 years ago, continues to bring families and friends together to celebrate the holidays. My grandson, now 31, and my granddaughter, 25, experienced this classic with me when they were just pre-schoolers, a never-to-be-forgotten memory. Sitting on my lap when The Ghost of Christmas Future appeared, Elizabeth said,
Grandma, this is a really scary movie.

I’m sure every family has a story to tell.

Larry Yando returns to the Goodman to become the Scrooge we have come to know so well. The sufferings of the poor are met with complete indifference. Sound familiar? Yando’s vast theatrical experience is evident from the opening scene to his joyful romp through the streets of London on Christmas morning. William Brown directs a large cast playing multiple roles with great expertise. There is not a flaw.

Set Designer Todd Rosenthal creates Dickens’ London with a new, hand-painted backdrop that features a foggy skyline and a snowy country scene. Goodman’s budget enables designers to replicate Scrooge’s starkly cold office, his equally ominous bedroom, the warm and friendly Cratchit cottage, Nephew Fred’s festive parlor, and dozens of other settings that recall every aspect of Scrooge’s life.

Music plays a major part in the production. Musical Director Andrew Hansen has assembled a group of exceptionally talented musicians. Justin Amolsch, French horn; Greg Hirte, violin/fiddle; Bethany Jorgensen, violin; and Malcholn Ruhl, accordion/guitar, appear in nearly every scene. Many members of the cast join together to harmonize, their voices blending beautifully. It is always refreshing to see how creativity can make a play we all know so well become a completely new event.

As the snows begin to fall, we see the lights, greens and ribbons that so colorfully portend the coming festivities. Not everyone will have the means to give to their loved ones, so remember to share what you can. The lesson Scrooge learned so well was the joy that we receive when we help others.

The show plays through Dec. 31 at the Goodman, 170 N. Dearborn in Chicago. If you plan to be in the city, call (312) 443-3811 or online at GoodmanTheatre.org.

From the Dec. 9-15, 2009 issue

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