For many families, it wouldn’t be the holidays without seeing Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim in a production of “A Christmas Carol.” Charles Dickens penned the play 175 years ago, but with themes of compassion, forgiveness and the importance of family, it’s a timeless classic that still resonates today.
Many Chicago area theater companies offer their own interpretations of the story of Scrooge’s Christmas Eve visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and there’s a performance good for every age.
When: Through Dec. 22
Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
Best for: All ages, even little ones
Four-year-old Grace sat still throughout the whole show, but it wasn’t a Christmas miracle, it was a well-done and condensed performance of the “A Christmas Carol” at Drury Lane. The show is just over an hour, which is short enough to hold the attention spans of little ones but long enough to include all the highlights. Grace’s little sister was a little scared in few parts but was fine and didn’t have to leave. We didn’t feel like anything major was missing and left feeling full of holiday spirit. This is also a good and efficient option for busy teens who have packed schedules and parents who love holiday traditions, not that my teen knows anything about either of those.
When: Through Dec. 30
Where: The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Best for: Older tweens and teens
I’m not sure the Victorians would be down with Bob Cratchit and the rest of the crew all getting a beat in this version by the Q Brothers, award-winning Chicago artists who fuse hip-hop and theater. It’s a fun and fresh take on the classic. Characters in this version include Jamaican Bob Marley and Lil’ Tim. There’s a DJ and a lot of modern humor and pop culture references, but the core of the story and the message of redemption remains true to the original work. The show runs for 75 minutes with no intermission.
When: Through Dec. 30
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
Best for: Middle school or older
The Goodman Theatre has been staging “A Christmas Carol” for 41 years now, and it is a classic Chicago holiday outing. This traditional presentation is one that Charles Dickens himself would approve of. That also means that it runs two hours and 15 minutes with one intermission, which can be tough for some children (and a few adults we know, but no judgment). The director said in a post on the Goodman website he waited until his child was 8 but acknowledged that, because the show can be a bit scary and intense, some kids need to be older, whereas others who are younger are fine. You know your kids best, and there’s no shame in waiting a year or two and getting a sitter so you can go with the grandparents. Note that a sensory-friendly performance takes place Dec. 29.
When: Through Dec. 16
Where: The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway St., Chicago
Best for: Star Trek fans, teens, adults
Wondering if the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future want Scrooge to “live long and prosper?” Check out this play, which is the first to be performed entirely in Klingon, a language from Star Trek. Thankfully, there are also English subtitles to help out the audience. Klingon values of courage and honor are incorporated into the themes that makes “A Christmas Carol” so endearing.
When: Dec. 19
Where: Judy’s Beat Lounge – Second City, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago
Best for: Grown-ups looking more for laughs than sentimentality on date night
Players from Make It Up Media perform “A Christmas Carol” as they remember it, from whenever they last saw it. Dickens may be spinning in his grave at the improv version of his classic, which of course takes some wacky and unexpected turns, but you’ll laughing off all your holiday stress. Who says kids get to have all the holiday fun?