Highly Recommended Tradition is a wonderful thing! Many of us have been witness to the annual production of “A Christmas carol” at The Goodman ( now in its 33rd season) and yet, each time we visit the Goodman for this theatrical experience, we walk away with a new warm and fuzzy feeling. I will say that every year small changes are made, some due to new ideas on the part of the director, William Brown ( for the past five years, but he has a total of 18 years of involvement with his show) and others because of the change of actors and their interpretation on the main character, in particular, the actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge. The new actor taking on this role has some pretty big shoes to fill, and John Judd, knowing the quality of work that the previous Scrooges have brought to the stage is up to the task. He is just a bit meaner at the onset, but as he is visited bt the spirits that will change his life, we can see the transformation take place and we start to see him as a sympathetic character. I am not sure exactly what Dickens had in mined when he penned this novella back in 1843, but as presented at The Goodman, we see a childhood that by today’s standards would fall under the abusive category, and thus Christmas was not a happy time for young Ebenezer Scrooge, who as the years went on grew to hate this dreaded holiday more and more. Judd does a great job at making this miserly, nasty man into a warm hearted caring soul.
As I stated above, each year there are changes made that help to keep the show fresh. This year, there is some more gender bending as two of the four ghosts that take Scrooge on this special journey are played by women ( these parts were always men). Susan Shunk as the Ghost of Christmas past is adorable and Penelope Walker as the Ghost of Christmas Present is hysterical. The ghost of Jacob Marley ( Scrooge’s departed partner) is once again skillfully played by Anish Jethmalani, a role he truly gets into. There are many returning actors in this large cast show as well as lots of newcomers. Would you believe it, over 200 children auditioned for the children’s roles, a record number for the Goodman and as the years go on, a little more music is added each year. I am sure that Gregory Hirte , who has been playing the violin in the show for 14 years is very happy to see that. After all, with the exception of “Fiddler on the Roof”, how many roles are there for Violin/fiddle players in the local theaters?
Other returning actors, although not always in their original rles are John Lister, Ron Rains ( 4th year as Bob Cratchit, Srooge’s employee),Malcolm Ruhl,Tiffany Scott ( returning as Scrooge’s lost love Belle), Christine Sherrill, Andy Truschinski, Katie jepp,Susan FelderJustin Amolsch, Michael Perez and Tim Gittings. New to the cast are Nate Burger, Naren Chaudhry,Cameron Joseph Conforti ( Tiny Tim),Megan Delaney, Emma Gordon,Aaron Holland, Grant Mitchell, Eric Parks, Lisa Tejero, and Peyton Young. Many of these actors take on many roles to make this wonderful production complete. I must say that the adaptation by Tom Creamer of the Dicken’s masterpiece does bring down the darkness of the story ( I am sure that Dickens himself lived a terrible childhood), but while this is considered family fare, I suggest that you think about your children or grandchildren prior to buying tickets. Little ones may get nightmares from some of what they see. I suggest 10 years or older to really have them enjoy the full theatrical experience..
Todd Rosenthal’s masterpiece of a set remains the same, a masterpiece and the marvelous lighting by Robert Christen and sound by Cecil Averett with original music by Andrew Hansen all add to the perfect production that the Goodman puts before Chiacgo audiences each year. ( although I know that people come from all over to see this glorious production, I know that it is geared for our worthy audiences). The costumes by Heidi Sue McMath are the icing on this perfect production, anw hile there are slight changes each year, this classic remains the highlight of the year when it comes to holiday theater and Christmas “tradition”.
“A Christmas Carol” will continue through December 31st with performances as follows:
Tuesdays ( 12/14-12/28 at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. on the 21st and 28th and at noon on the 14th), Wednesdays at noon on 12/1,and 12/8, 7:30 p.m. on 12/8-12/29 and a 2 p.m. show on 12/22,Thursdays at noon on 12/2 and 12/9, 2 p.m. on 12/23 and 12/30 and 7:30 p.m. from 12/2-12/30, Friday at 8 p.m. with the exception of 12/24 and 12/31 where a 2 p.m. performance will take place, Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. through 12/18 ( no performance on Christmas day) and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 :30 p.m. through 12/26.
Tickets start as low as $25 and can be purchased at the box office located at 170 N. Dearborn Street, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at www.Goodmanheatre.org
Students can purchase discounted tix ( $10 rear mezzanine, day of show with ID/limit 4) subject to availability and MezzTix is a half price program on day of performance. Check out www.GoodmanTheatre.orgfor more info. There is also a “luxury package”, limited quantity that includes parking, complimentary beverages and a gift package. Check the website for htis as well.
If you have not seen “A Christmas Carol” at The Goodman, what are you waiting for? make this your gift to yourself and have a happy holiday!