A Timeless Classic Brought to Life – By Maddie Ronquillo

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

There’s something to be said about timeless classics; they bring connections from the past into the present and onward to the future, while at the same time bestowing a sense of big-hearted bliss among audience members, young and old. “A Christmas Carol” is no doubt one of these timeless classics.

A well-known and distinguished story by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” sends audience members on a compelling ride, complete with wickedness, remorse and ultimate redemption, all through the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge. I have seen many depictions of this enduring tale, and even though it had been my second viewing at The Goodman, I still found myself on the edge of my seat, squealing and gasping like a young child.

I must say that I am still in awe of such a wonderful and detailed production. The Scrooge mansion is an exemplary feat of the sort—it feels deep, dark, and dank, just as the wicked soul of the man who owns the house. And true to the Cratchit family’s warmth and cheeriness, the Cratchit house is made to feel cozy and happy. It is as if you could walk into these buildings and see these characters come to life right before your eyes.

The incredibly chosen cast of this production brings a sense of utter joy among audience members. Ron Rains’ personification of Bob Cratchit brought a great smile to my face with every line and gesture, Jordan Brown’s Young Man Scrooge made me feel the awkwardness of talking to that one special person for the very first time during the Fezziwig holiday party scene. It’s a shame that I do not feel the same about the performances of Belle and Jacob Marley. Both characters felt too forced and therefore did not bring credibility to their characters.

However, to Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge, I say, “What a remarkable boy!” He plays such a believable Scrooge, while still making a natural transition from iniquity to benevolence. I also must include that Yando is able to bust out a highly graceful arabesque after his character is redeemed from his actions. Oh, and little Matthew Abraham as Tiny Tim is able to make the audience in a collective “Aww” as he yells out the most well-known line in the play: “God bless us, everyone!”

If you’re a prospective audience member, watch out for the smoke from the fog machine. Although it adds to the atmospheric effect of the overall setting, I cannot imagine how big of a distraction it is for the first two rows on the main floor. Another component that families should be aware of is the element of surprise and perhaps fright that might elicit a few screams from small children.

The production conveyed themes that can send an audience member straight into a sense of pensiveness. While most would not dare to identify themselves with the cold-hearted Scrooge, I found that I was questioning myself. Can I identify myself with warm and spirited characters, such as Tiny Tim or Bob Cratchit? Does true Christmas spirit dwell brightly within me, as Scrooge’s did after his great revelation? Will my past somehow negatively affect my thoughts, leading me to be skeptical about Christmastime and all that comes with it? In the midst of this inundation of questions, I realized that if this production leads me into this state of questioning and reflection, then the entire theme of remorse and redemption is clearly shown—and for that, I am truly grateful.

While “A Christmas Carol” sends audience members on a bit of a roller coaster of emotions, it’s a fantastic production for young and old. And, with its realistic atmosphere, exciting cast and tremendous plot, this is a beautifully done show that will appeal to one and all.