It's not Christmas without a little Ebenezer Scrooge. And fortunately, Goodman Theatre's annual production brings Dickens' most famous character to life in all his miserly glory, making for a lovely holiday tradition.
The cozy theater is a perfect spot for a re-creation of Victorian London, with every seat offering a good view of the stage. Audiences will delight at the familiar words, from the show-opening, "Marley was dead to begin with" to Tiny Tim's cheery "God bless us, every one!" And even if you've seen countless versions of the 170-year-old novella (The Muppets Christmas Carol is a favorite in my house), don't be surprised if you come away with a new appreciation for the story thanks to this faithful adaptation.
While the youngest tots might be scared at times - it is about ghosts, after all, and even I jumped at the sudden appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come - the show is great for kids in elementary school and up and provides an introduction to Dickens' famous tale and literature in general. A young audience member behind me asked a few questions during the show, but seemed to follow along once the story really got rolling. Plus, I was surprised at how many laughs there were, bringing the story to a more accessible level for younger audience members.
The source of most of those laughs is Larry Yando's Scrooge, who perfectly plays the transformation from a downright mean skinflint to a man who's been given a second lease on life. I giggled just as heartily as the younger set at some of his sillier antics. But the show's sense of humor, while welcome, never overshadows the greater message of generosity and goodwill.
While the star of the show is undoubtedly Scrooge, the whole company does an admirable job bringing other characters to life. Standouts include down-but-never-out Bob Cratchit (Ron Rains), jolly Mr. Fezziwig (Michael Aaron Lindner), the imperial Ghost of Christmas Present (A. C. Smith), and the Narrator (Sarah Chalcroft), who presides over the whole show with a kind twinkle in her eye.
Goodman also makes great use of some local child actors, including an adorable Tiny Tim (Matthew George Abraham), who delivers his signature line with aplomb.
With just a two hour running-time, including intermission, A Christmas Carol makes a great outing this holiday season. And it just might start a long-standing tradition for your family to return to, year after year … no bah-humbugs about it.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.