Engage & Learn

Cindy Bandle Young Critics

Offered completely FREE to young women in the 11th grade throughout Chicago and the suburbs, this joint venture between Goodman Theatre and the Association for Women Journalists – Chicago introduces young women to theater criticism and the world of professional writing. Participants will receive press opening tickets to every production in the Goodman’s 11-12 season, one-on-one mentoring from professional journalists and have the opportunity to interview artists associated with Goodman Theatre productions!

Questions? We’re happy to help! Contact us at 312-443-5581 or Education@GoodmanTheatre.org.


Applications are due by October 5th, 2012 (application requirements contained within).

A Christmas Carol – By Talia Adams

January 22, 2013 by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

It’s Christmas season once again here at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Scrooge sets out on his journey of revelation in the 35th anniversary of “A Christmas Carol” directed by Steve Scott. The holiday classic has become a tradition and whether you have seen it before or not you will be drawn into the magical path of redemption that comes with the Holiday season. From the second you walk through the doors you are transported to Christmas Eve as the joyous sound of Christmas carolers rings throughout the lobby.

The grumpy old Scrooge, wonderfully portrayed by Larry Yando, is visited by his late friend and business partner, Jacob Marley played by Joe Foust, succeeded by three ghosts: Christmas Past, Present  and Future. Marley’s entrance was shocking to say the least, which seemed to be a common theme throughout the play, appearing abruptly with clamorous echoes of his anger. As Scrooge is taken on the adventure to open his mind, eyes, and heart to the love that is all around him the audience is following right along with him. While Scrooge is forced to look within himself the audience also does the same. I left with a greater appreciation for money as the economic issues of the timeless tale struck rather close to home.

“A Christmas Carol” wouldn’t be the wondrous beauty it is without the technical part of the production.  The set, lighting, and costumes are all key to the play’s success. The set was extravagantly designed to match the time period and to capture ones the audience’s attention. Each set was detailed to perfection and with incredible hydraulics they were brought on and off stage with ease. The stage remained well balanced as far as the set and blocking went but from the side box balcony seats my view was strongly obstructed. The lighting was another way to beautifully set the mood of each scene from small flashing strobe lights during the entrance of the Ghost of Christmas Past to the dark gloom of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Each ghost was unique in his or her costume, from the bright white of Christmas past to the deathly black of Christmas future, setting them apart as characters.

What kind of play would it be without the inspiring artistic work of the actors?  As an ensemble the actors seemed to effortlessly blend together in the common goal of illustrating the story for their audience. They all truly seemed to have an understanding for the script. I was in “A Christmas Carol” myself and I left The Goodman with a stronger understanding of the story than when I was actually in it. There were times when an accent was overplayed slightly such as Nora Fiffer who played Scrooge’s old love interest Bell.  Apart from that I found the acting nearly flawless. Larry Yando did an exceptional job in his fifth time playing the lead of Ebenezer Scrooge. He had the character down from the simple way he licked his fingers to each Bah Humbug.

“A Christmas Carol” is running through Dec. 29 2012 and I strongly suggest that you make it a must see. The play runs 2 hours and 10 minutes with an intermission. Tickets are available online, by phone, or at the box office, ranging from $25-$82 and worth every penny. The message of “A Christmas Carol” was evident and depicted through surprise, music, and even laughter as Scrooge makes his transformation. The show will leave you with the warm fuzzy feeling inside and a smile on your face and the words “God Bless us everyone” ringing through your ears.

‘A Christmas Carol’: A new take on the classic tale – By Mattison Johnston

January 8, 2013 by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

In this timeless classic, The Goodman brings to life the heart-warming moral of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”: Gift good unto fellow man, or fear the consequences of selfish living.

Among smoke (perhaps a bit overdone), flashing multicolor lights (credited to Robert Christen) and bright colors of both the set and costume sort (Heidi Sue McMath), the set (designed by Todd Rosenthal, a talented and experienced member of the theater world) pop. Adults, children, first-timers and veterans of “A Christmas Carol” alike will be absorbed by the bright life produced on stage, from a combination of these talented people’s contributions.

Framed by the classic facades that have graced The Goodman’s production of the play for years, Rosenthal carefully mixes tradition with the new. Though the astounding—and at times unbelievable—rolling buildings have been around for years, the colors and position of props add a feeling of being physically drawn in to each scene.

From the very start, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by the energetic and believable Larry Yando) creates a hilarious and fresh take on the Scrooge of tradition, creating a near parody of the character himself, with the skilled acting necessary to pull it off tastefully. Yando provides for both the comedy of the role, with the dedication to the more emotionally packed scenes, such as the visit to the Cratchits’ future. Still, this balance allows for scenes such as these to be both meaningful, but not overwhelming to the viewer.

Introduced with gloomy greens and clouds, the ghost of Jacob Marley (Joe Foust), who comes to tell Scrooge of his unfortunate reckoning, causes the audience’s younger members to shake in their boots and unsettles even the most steel-willed viewers. Credit is due here to light designer Robert Christen and sound designer Richard Woodbury, who employ wafting smoke and dark colored lights, paired with physically disconcerting sounds, such as voice-changing technology and the multiplied sounds of chains smashed against floor. Foust himself provides a mournful yet absolutely terrifying portrayal of the regretful friend to Scrooge.

The effervescent Elizabeth Ledo gives an excellent performance as the Ghost of Christmas Past, soaring high above the crowd, alight with halo and glowing hands and feet, bringing a hint of charm to Scrooge’s somewhat depressing childhood scene. Alongside the garishly dressed Ghost of Christmas Present (Penelope Walker), the two female performers bring much to the table, creating perfectly timed breaks in the more serious side of the play.

Of course, the acting itself is not wholly responsible for these well-planned diversions. Adaptor Tom Creamer provides an original take on the script for “A Christmas Carol.” With insertions of humor, tactful displays of underlying morals and witty dialogue, the classic is rendered completely accessible to every audience member.

A mention is also quite necessary to Ron Rains, who offers a loveable and lighthearted portrayal of Bob Cratchit. Rains adds a dash of comedy to the happy-go-lucky character, whom misfortune befalls so frequently.

Director Steve Scott helps to bring the show to its full potential, with well-directed body language that keeps the audience engaged. Paired with the adapted script, these factors truly enhance the show for the modern age. In a time of economic troubles, this performance of “A Christmas Carol” reminds us all of the true nature of the holidays. With the closing of the curtain comes a warm feeling in the bellies of the masses, and an even warmer one in the hearts of all.

A congratulations is due to staff and cast, who worked tirelessly to live up to the 35th anniversary of “A Christmas Carol”.


A Christmas Carol spreads yuletide cheer once again – By Frankie Hermanek

January 8, 2013 by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

For 35 years, the timeless tale of A Christmas Carol has been presented at Goodman Theatre as an annual Christmas celebration. With breathtaking technical prowess and an exceptional cast, the Goodman recreated this beloved story. The audience entered the theater, glowing with the excitement that is Christmas. Pre-show anticipation enveloped their conversations as the theater gradually began to fill. By the time of opening curtain, the entire place was consumed with eager theater lovers, adults and children alike.

A musical number, the segue into the show, took center stage as carolers and their young ones circled around each other, singing of Christmas. As they ended, they began to hint at the bitter man that was Ebenezer Scrooge, preparing the audience for the story to come. Interestingly enough, most of the audience members knew the tale of Scrooge. Many of us have read the story in grammar school, have heard references all throughout pop culture, or have seen motion pictures. Yet despite our knowledge of the story, the Goodman production instilled a sense of suspense and entertainment. Perhaps this was due to the marvelous technical efforts of the crew, or the colorful personalities of the actors. Maybe it was simply because we saw a childhood tale brought to life right before our eyes.

Larry Yando, the play’s memorable Scrooge, portrayed a man of a very complex nature. Bringing the legend to life, Yando brilliantly displayed his character’s inner turmoil. Emotion pronounced itself to be nearly tangible. One of the most striking moments of the play presented itself at the end of Act I, right before the curtain closed for intermission. As the Ghost of Christmas Past took Scrooge to the time of his youth, he experienced once again the moment Belle left him as a result of his greed and bitterness. Scrooge begged with agony in his voice to show him no more; he could not bear to relive his experiences that had shaped him into the man he had become. My heart sank with sadness as I watched the shaking man on stage, overcome with emotion. Larry Yando’s performance left an unforgettable mark in my mind.

The technical aspect of the production was outstanding; in that sense, it was the most advanced play I had ever seen. The crew clearly spent months on end perfecting the set. From trap doors to moving units, flying actors to fog, and advanced mood lighting to impressionable sound effects, the tech of A Christmas Carol set the bar very high. Tony Award-winning set designer Todd Rosenthal created a lively setting to tell a story; he succeeded beyond expression. The entire work of it all was truly remarkable, reminding me why thespians coined the phrase “the magic of the theatre”; simply because the Goodman production was truly magical in the sense that the entire audience entered the make believe world of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Prior to this show on November 24 I had never seen A Christmas Carol at the Goodman. I had truly been in the dark, for I had never been so impressed with a play before. This magnificent show proved to be something of magic. It was truly one of the greatest Christmas treats the city of Chicago has to offer. It came as no surprise the production has been running for 35 consecutive years. Something so breathtaking cannot go ignored, especially during the greatest time of the year. A brighter holiday season is to come; the magic of the Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol awaits.


A Timeless Classic Brought to Life – By Maddie Ronquillo

January 7, 2013 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.

A Christmas Carol – By Lara Jung

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

It is more than a little daunting to sit down and participate in such an opinionated act: writing a play review.  As I settled into my seat in the Albert Theatre, I found myself nervously anticipating the start of the show. Having already seen “A Christmas Carol” a few times before, I had a vague idea of what to expect, but as a first-time theater critic, I felt completely out of my element. I grabbed my small leather notebook and tried to look like I knew what I was doing. When the curtain rose and I prepared to take notes on the play, I dropped my notebook into my lap and couldn’t find it in myself to pick it up until the play had finished.

A Christmas Carol is a phenomenal Christmas tradition: any attempt at note taking was shot down by the brilliance of the costumes, sets and the actors’ enthusiasm. Clearly the show has done well for itself. In its 35th year, A Christmas Carol established itself as a family Christmas classic. In his fifth year as Scrooge, Larry Yando returned to delight the audiences with his amusing, albeit somewhat overplayed stomping and harrumphing. That being said, it is his over-exaggerated glares at Bob Cratchit contrasted with his excitable antics as wakes up from his night of ghosts that enforce the story’s message.

A story of transformations, Tom Creamer’s adaptation of Dickens’ famous novel stays true to the themes laid out by Dickens 169 years ago.  The story is not new, the costumes, though beautifully designed, were not new, the set designs were the same as the year before, and yet, I like to believe it is something other than tradition that brings audiences to the Goodman every year around Christmas time.

I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down. I knew that there weren’t going to be any shocking surprises or revelations because, well, I had seen it before. That too might be the plight of many readers. If that is the case, I have only one word of caution. This production, unlike many others, can and should be seen again. If nothing else, the warmth and reminder of holiday spirit that resonates in the voices of the Fezziwigs and their guests as they sing together in Act Two is reason to pick up a ticket.

While yes, the play reminds us of time spent with family and yes, it is reminiscent of childhood, A Christmas Carol leaves audiences with a message of hope: everyone has the capacity to change, and that gift is not to be taken for granted.  Everything about the show remains authentic to that very theme.

All of the technical aspects of the production create an ambiance unparalleled to any I’ve ever felt. Robert Christen’s light design held my attention for the sole reason that any good lighting should: it set the tone for the scenes. Children beware because Christen’s gloomy choices for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come scene made even the above-it-all teenage shiver. From music to costuming, the show is the epitome of Christmas cheer. And yet without such a fantastic ensemble of actors, as in any show, “A Christmas Carol” wouldn’t be the same. The playful mix of humor and honesty in the actors’ movement and delivery of lines is what makes the show enjoyable for all ages.  The comedic relief provided by Bob Cratchit (Ron Rains) in Act One, when contrasted with his performance of familial humility in Act Two provide the show with a heightened humanity.  And of course, I’ve yet to meet a person who can “Bah Humbug!”  Tiny Tim’s (Matthew Abraham) blessing at the end of the play!

I hope that you see what I see when I think of the Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”; a beautiful sentiment that reminds us to spend time with the people we love during the holidays. I do know one thing: the moment the Goodman Theatre opens its doors for “A Christmas Carol”, the holiday season has officially begun.

Happy Holidays!

Running time: Approx. 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission

Runs through: December 29

Buy Tickets online at http://www.goodmantheatre.org/Tickets/

Or call 312-443-3800