The Holiday Classic Returns, Thrilling Audiences for 35 years – By Marianna Oharenko

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

The Goodman Theatre rings in the holiday season with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The critically acclaimed production returns for its 35th year on the Goodman stage. In a world of Black Friday shopping beginning promptly on Thanksgiving morning, “A Christmas Carol,” reminds us of the true meaning of the holiday season – family.

Within seconds of the curtain rising, the audience is thrust into the holiday spirit. The familiar tunes of carolers, soundings of the violin and ornate costumes call forth a friendly sense of nostalgia. Amidst the levity emerges the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge, played to perfection by Larry Yando. Yando masterfully embodies the mean-spirited character. With little patience for solemnity, he often pierces the heavy veil of his offenses with witty humor.

Scrooge begins his Christmas Eve journey as a miserly man, a victim of the holiday season. Upon being visited by the ghost of his late partner, Jacob Marley (Joe Foust), Scrooge learns he must confront his wrongdoings. He reluctantly begins his journey with the ghost of Christmas Past, a delightful and tastefully comedic performance by Elizabeth Ledo. Scrooge embraces the incidents of his past that led him to become an old miser.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Penelope Walker) transports Scrooge to his next destination, offering him a sort of invisibility cloak to observe the Christmas festivities of the night. The audience sits erected at the tip of their seats as Scrooge soars across the stage, landing in the humble Cratchet residence. Bob Cratchet, the impoverished and suffering clerk to Scrooge, is brilliantly portrayed by Ron Rains. However, the focus is immediately dispensed upon Tiny Tim Cratchet (Matthew Abraham), an audience favorite.

Scrooge is finally convinced of his offenses upon encountering the Ghost of Christmas Present (Jordan Brown). Scrooge immediately repents for his past actions and embodies the Christmas spirit whole heartedly. The audience joyfully celebrates with Scrooge, and Tiny Tim carries the weight of the production on his shoulders, exclaiming “ A Merry Christmas to us all, God bless us every one.”

Set designer Todd Rosenthal provides a London village setting, enhancing the nostalgic and traditional qualities of the Dickens’ tale. The attention to detail and intricacy provide actors with an exceptional platform to entrance the audience. Costume designer Sue McMath further complements the scenery with traditional, yet creative and flamboyant pieces.

“A Christmas Carol,” directed by Steve Scott, is a “must-see” this holiday season. The show is a highly recommended theatre experience that the whole family to enjoy.

“A Christmas Carol” runs through Dec. 29 at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago. For tickets and information visit the theater’s website.