A Christmas Carol is as much a part of the holiday
season as, well, actual Christmas carols.
The kids of "A Christmas Carol"
The Goodman Theatre's production of "A
Christmas Carol" has been a Chicago holiday tradition for more than
three decades. So we sat down with four kids in the cast to talk
about what this family favorite means to them -- and what's on
their holiday wish list.
Watch full-screen >>
Our ears perk at "Bah! Humbug," and our hearts melt a little
when Tiny Tim delivers his classic line, "God bless us,
And since its publication more than 150 years ago, the story has
spawned dozens of stage, movie and television adaptations. The
online movie and television database IMDB returns more than 30 results,
ranging from a 1910 silent adaptation that ran 11 minutes long to
Disney's 2009 3-D release. The Muppets, the Flintstones, Barbie and
Sesame Street have all done their own versions, and some of
England's finest classical actors have played Ebenezer Scrooge.
And yet, from an academic standpoint, A Christmas Carol
is hardly Dickens' finest work. Written in just six weeks in the
fall of 1843, its full title was A Christmas Carol in Prose,
Being a Ghost Story of Christmas and was marketed mostly as a
gothic ghost story, says Elaine Hadley, an associate literature
professor at the University of Chicago.
And yet Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Christmas ghosts remain woven
into our seasonal psyche, and resurface every year about this
So what is it about this story that resonates so strongly?
For starters, Hadley says, it was one of the first pieces of
literature to capture what we now think of as the Christmas spirit.
Christmas in Dickensian England was far more reserved than it is
today, not all that different from other religious or harvest
"[A Christmas Carol] was a critical catalyst in
transforming Christmas into a central holiday," she says. "The idea
of the family coming together, eating big goose and spending time
together is captured so perfectly."
The story of Scrooge and Bob Cratchit also played into another
theme that rings loud and clear this time of year - and especially
this year: capitalism and the common good.
Dickens offers up two visions of social responsibility: Scrooge,
the tight-fisted miser, and the Cratchits, a close-knit and
generous family struggling through poverty and disease.
"[The story] talks about the importance of strengthening the
social fabric, of our obligation to other people," Hadley said.
"Especially in this economy, that's a strong message."
Whatever the reason, A Christmas Carol continues to
captivate holiday audiences. In Chicago, the Goodman Theatre's
production is a seasonal tradition dating back to 1978. Click
here to watch a video of four child stars of this year's
See more of Liz's stories here.
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