December 1, 2005

"A Christmas Carol."  Goodman Theatre. Through Dec. 26. No performance on Christmas. Ages 6 and up. $20-$65. 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800, We all know it. It’s a family favorite. And every year we go for the tradition of it. But how could anything about Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” possible feel new?

Yet, it does. Trust me. They are the same words and the same characters but The Goodman Theatre’s production of this classic is delightfully surprising.

I took my son and his friend and we all knew the story well. In fact, truth be told, the boys were being pushed and prodded to come because they have been there and done that.

Yet, we all agreed: It was just wonderful. It is a testament to director Kate Buckley’s staging that we all jumped and gasped when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come told Ebenezer Scrooge the painful truth at the play’s climax. And thanks to William Brown’s great acting as Scrooge, we all laughed when the once miserly man introduced his new outlook to the streets of old London.

From start to finish, this was a magical night of holiday theater. It is not kids' theater—there are intense moments in this play--but it is theater that is delightful for kids.

(Full disclosure here: We got stuck in traffic dropping my sister off at Midway Airport, so we missed Jacob Marley’s entrance. But I am told it is just as intense as the future ghost’s segment. So, use your parental judgment when it comes to bringing young children to the production. The play, intermission included, runs two hours. If your children can sit that long, it’s a good gauge as to whether they are ready for this Goodman night. And if you have a very sensitive child, make sure you explain that while there are scary things that happen in this play, everything turns out fine for everyone.)

Make this production of “A Christmas Carol” your family’s holiday tradition. It runs through Dec. 26. And if you go there through Dec. 22, leave time to stop by the Daley Center Plaza for Christkindlemarket Chicago on Washington between Clark and Dearborn streets. That just adds another touch of magic and memories.

Susy Schultz



1.  "The Nutcracker on Horseback." Noble Horse Theatre. Through Jan. 8. Families. $16-$48 1410 N. Orleans St., Chicago. (312) 266-7878,

Cindy Richards 

 2.  "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes." The Rosemont Theatre. Through Dec. 24. $24.50-$56.50 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont. (312) 559-1212, From the Nutcracker to the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, from the streets of New York to the Living Nativity, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Radio City Rockettes more than lives up to its billing. If you don't have the Christmas spirit when you enter the Rosemont Theatre you will when you leave. Enjoy the singing of the familiar carols and be prepared for the powerful finale of the "Hallelujah Chorus." A truly enjoyable presentation and suitable for most children school-age and up. Judy Belanger

 3. "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Auditorium Theatre--Roosevelt University. Through Dec. 4. Families. $25-$72. 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago. (312) 902-1400, This is an evening guaranteed to make you smile. My son and I walked out of the theater humming. This musical adaptation of the Bible story of the results of the ups and downs of Jacob’s son Joseph’s relationship to his 11 brothers, debuted in 1968. But it has not gotten stale thanks to the memorable tunes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the very clever lyrics of Tim Rice. Yes, it’s campy and over the top at points, as when the Elvis-wannabe Pharaoh takes the stage. But it all works well. And Patrick Cassidy does it all--sings, dances and makes a commanding and comical Joseph. This is a good theater starter for little ones--colorful, energetic and a running time of two hours. Susy Schultz


 Peter Himmelman Kids Concert. See this acclaimed children's musician perform and bring a toy for WXRT's holiday toy drive. Noon and 3 p.m. Dec. 4. American Airlines Concert Hall at The Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Families. $15. (773) 728-6000,

Peter HImmelman is great in concert. I love him. As I said when I wrote a review of his release, “My Favorite Plum:” “Peter Himmelman is one of those rare musicians who produces music that doesn't sound like anyone else's. What I mean is that he trusts his own intuitive nature when he is writing and producing his songs. The result is some amazingly creative journeys into the imagination that also have something to say to kids.” Fred Koch Movies

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