Monday February 19th 2018

“A Christmas Carol” reviewed by Carol Moore

 Highly Recommended ***** The Goodman Theatre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” remains essentially the same from year to year, which audiences seem to love.  “A Christmas Carol” is holiday tradition for many families, spanning generations.  The Goodman lobby is festive with decorations and a sparkling holiday shopping area.  Now in its 40th year, “A Christmas Carol” is once again practically perfect – fabulous cast, lavish sets and colorful period costumes.  I give it 4 Holiday Spotlights.

The Narrator, Kareem Bandealy, is absolutely positive that Marley is dead, dead as a doornail.  Ebenezer Scrooge (Larry Yando) still hates Christmas.

Happy people everywhere are getting on his last nerve.  People dare to interrupt his work day to ask for donations for the poor!  In another unwanted interruption, his niece Frida (Ali Burch), delivers a Christmas tree, a gift and an invitation to Christmas dinner.  To further aggravate him, Frida puts extra coal on the fire before leaving.  Finally, his clerk, Bob Cratchit (Ron E. Rains), asks for a holiday with pay on Christmas day!

At home, Scrooge thinks he’s seeing things when his door knocker turns from a lion into a scary face with glowing eyes.  In his bedroom, he thinks he hears a noise, but shrugs it off and goes to bed.  Suddenly, there’s a very loud and annoying blast of sound accompanied by flashing lights.  His former partner, Jacob Marley (Joe Foust), who’s been dead for seven years, appears in his bedroom.  Marley warns Scrooge about the chains awaiting him after death and that he can expect three ghostly visits. 

With another annoying boom, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Molly Brennan) arrives in Scrooge’s bedroom wearing a steam-punk outfit.  The Ghost teaches him how to fly, then takes him back to a Christmas Eve during his lonely school days.  Young Ebenezer (Cameron Goode) is prepared to stay at the school over the holidays but his sister Fan (Ariana Burks) arrives to take him home.

Unlike some versions of “A Christmas Carol”, this Ebenezer Scrooge (Kareem Bandealy) is serious about his apprenticeship with Mr. Fezziwig (Jonah D. Winston).  Mr. Fezziwig might be ready to celebrate Christmas, but young Scrooge works on his ledgers until Dick Wilkins (Breon Arzill) confiscates them.  Mrs. Fezziwig (Penelope Walker) makes him dance, but he doesn’t fully enjoy the evening until he meets Belle (Sadieh Rifai).

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Lisa Gaye Dixon) and a huge pile of gifts arrives in Scrooge’s bedroom.  She takes great glee in scattering glitter everywhere as she takes Scrooge to see the joyful Christmas celebration at the Cratchit home – with a very scrawny bird as the main course at dinner.  When Bob toasts Mr. Scrooge, Mrs. Cratchit (Michele Vazquez) has a hissy fit.  Tiny Tim (Paris Strickland), clearly the center of this family, blesses everyone.

Finally, the very creepy, very tall Ghost of Christmas Future (Breon Arzell), who never says a word but gets his message across very clearly, directs Scrooge to a death watch and a couple of funerals.

  • This is Larry Yando’s 10th year as Scrooge.
  • Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, has morphed into a niece, Frida, this year.
  • Tiny Tim is played by a girl for the very first time.

On opening night, more than 40 alumni artists, joined the current cast for a special curtain call.  Goodman Artistic Director Robert Fall introduced the very first Scrooge, William J. Norris. 

“A Christmas Carol” runs through December 31st in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago.  Most reasonable parking options for the Goodman:

  • Valet parking garage on Randolph between Michigan and Wabash (across from the Cultural Center) at $15
  • Government Center garage on Lake between LaSalle and Dearborn, online advance payment at www.interparkonline.com/goodmantheatre, $17.

Running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with an intermission.  Performances are Tuesdays at 7:30 pm; Wednesdays at 12:00 noon and 7:30 pm; Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 pm; Sundays, December 10th & 17th at 2:00 and 6:30 pm.  There are additional performances on many dates, check with the box office for availability.  Tickets range from $25-$112.  FYI (312) 443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org.

to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “A Christmas Carol”

 

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