For exactly 40 years, Chicagoans have sat at the Cratchit family dinner table, taken a stroll down cobblestoned London streets on a chilly winter’s evening, and learned to believe in the goodness of the human spirit with Ebenezer Scrooge.
And for exactly 40 years, Goodman Theatre has reinvented the magical tale of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’
Sure, we could list the rave reviews—of which there are legion— but to get the truest account of what makes this staging quite so special, we spoke with the experts: four young actors in the show, all new to the production for the 2017 season.
Chicagoans all, they have plenty of ideas for what makes a holiday season perfect in this town. Maggie Chong (Emily) has an extensive list of must-dos, like visiting the Art Institute’s Thorne Miniature Rooms “where they decorate the miniature houses for the December holidays,” and recommends the Music Box’s Christmas Double Feature, where her family prepares for ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ by dressing up in their favorite ugly Christmas sweaters and yelling “Don’t do it, George!”
Andrea Crisp (Belinda Cratchit) is a fan of Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest and loves the city when it’s a true white Christmas. Not all holiday traditions need be commercial, however, as Kei Rawlins (Turkey Child) reminds us. He lists snowballs fights and tobogganing as his must-dos, and digs how “in Chicago it actually snows like it does in Toronto where I was born.”
For Cameron Goode, who portrays Boy Scrooge, the heart of the season revolves around his family and showing faith, but also notes the importance of Christmas lights in his bedroom: “It’s necessary!”
Everyone and their nephew Fred has a favorite part of the show, of course. For Crisp, it’s “when Jacob Marley visits Scrooge and his jaw drops.” Chong homed in on the moral arc of the tale, preferring when “Scrooge changed at the end … he realized what was important in life, not just money.” Rawlins concurs and admires how Scrooge “changes into a better person … and looks funny doing so.”
Goode is a fan of Bob Cratchit, as he’s “really witty, joyful and humble.” He follows that up with a nod to all the parents out in there: “He shows respect for Ebenezer Scrooge even though he’s overworked, tired and has a family at home.”
When asked why 1.5 million theatergoers have loved the Goodman’s staging year after year, Goode speculates that families enjoy the uplifting aspect of the tale.
“[Scrooge] had a glimpse into Bob Cratchit’s family; they were so poor, but yet they had so much love … to me, the real reason why people love this show is because it symbolizes redemption.”
Chong agrees. “It shows that it’s never too late to change for the good.”
If you go:
A Christmas Carol
Nov. 18-Dec. 31
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
First ever sensory-friendly performance on Dec. 30, complete with dimmed lights, designated quiet areas, and a trained staff on hand. Tickets, starting at $15, with promo code SENSORY, and resource materials, lobby and seating maps are available at GoodmanTheatre.org/SensoryPerformance.