A Christmas Carol – By Judith Edlund

January 7, 2013 in Cindy Bandle Young Critics by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

For 35 years Chicagoans have been celebrating the holiday season with The Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.”  The show is as popular as dining at The Walnut Room by the tree.  Tom Creamer’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 169-year-old heartwarming tale, combined with Steve Scott’s direction allows this story to come alive for all ages.

“A Christmas Carol” is the memorable tale of the grumpy, greedy and wealthy businessman, Scrooge, who has no sense of holiday cheer.  Bah-Humbug!  One Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by his old business partner Jacob Marley, who says he will be visited by three spirits.  One spirit shows him his past, another his present, and the last spirit shows him his future if he is to continue to live the same way.

The beautifully designed sets portray Victorian London on stage for the telling of this classic tale.  Everything is created with an enormous attention to detail, from the realistic candlelight burning in Scrooge’s counting house to the cheerful yet sparse holiday décor in the Cratchit’s home.  The decision to have live musicians playing Christmas carols onstage was a clever choice.  This creative decision allowed the music to both be part of the action and to help define it for the audience.

Larry Yando’s portrayal of Scrooge is absolutely wonderful.  He develops a depiction of the famous dismal businessman containing no amount of holiday cheer, who later embodies every aspect of what it means to celebrate the holidays. Whether it is his cruel mockery of his nephew Fred (Demetrios Troy) and Bob Cratchit (Ron Rains) during the first scene in the counting house, or the funny faces exclaiming joy, or the clear mimicry of flying like the Ghost of Christmas Past (Elizabeth Ledo), Yando plays up on the comedic elements, found within the scope of his character.

Steve Scott’s inventive direction with this classic tale gives a new, lighthearted approach with a comedic flare to this everlasting holiday favorite.  The unique technical aspects he chooses to use allows for the holiday magic to come to life.  His direction provides for the story to remain engaging and captivating for today’s audiences.

“A Christmas Carol” reminds audiences what the holidays are all about.  The heartfelt journey that Scrooge endures reminds us that even if we have little to give, we can wind up giving the biggest gift of all: As Tiny Tim would say, “God Bless Us Everyone!” “A Christmas Carol” is currently playing at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, now until December 29, 2012.