Now entering it’s 35th year, the Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol has become a Chicago tradition, although as a born and breed Chicagoan, I must admit to having never actually having seen any of the previous productions before. I am, however, pleased to report that I wish I had. The show is a joy from the moment the lights rise to the moment they dim. I hardly need to go into the plot of Dickens’ masterpiece of redemption and hope, but for the few of you who are unfamiliar, here’s a refresher. Scrooge, a callous money lender is visited on Christmas Eve by his long deceased partner Jacob Marley, who warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts throughout the night, who will offer him the opportunity to sympathize with his fellow man, or be forever damned to walk the earth after death in the chains of misery he sewed in life
Ah, but any production of A Christmas Carol is only as good as its Scrooge. This one has a true master on stage. From the moment Larry Yando (now in his sixth year as Scrooge) takes the stage, Mr. Yando commands it, not a performer afraid to take risks. He finds the lighter sides of Scrooge, so that when he makes his transition it doesn’t come from nowhere.
This production doesn’t skip a beat from Todd Rosenthal’s Victorian gem of a set. Robert Christen’s mood setting lighting. Heidi Sue Martin’s costumes were always period perfection with one notable exception. The Ghost of Christmas Past with her white Peter Pan pixie just didn’t seem to work. Richard Woodbury, and Andrew Hansen’s sound and music always hit the right note. Steve Scott runs a tight ship keeping the evening moving along with brisk pacing, and lively staging
Penelope Walker is first rate as the Ghost of Christmas Present. She brilliantly walks the line between unabandoned joy and no nonsense charm. Ora Jones always a standout was a sheer delight pulling double duty as Scrooge’s gossipy charwoman, and the bubbly Mrs. Fezziwig. Joe Foust is absolutely chilling as The Ghost of Jacob Marley. Nora Fiffer was heartbreakingly radiant as Belle with a pitch perfect Scottish brogue. Jordan Brown very effectively portrays a Young Scrooge. Ron Raines wonderfully masters the long suffering Bob Cratchit. Demetrios Troy and Dana Cruz do strong work as Scrooge’s nephew and his wife.
By the end of the show I found tears steaming down my face as Tiny Tim said that now famous line “God bless us everyone.”
Reviewed by Ty Perry on 12/20/12