Goodman Theatre’s ‘Christmas Carol’ shines ever so brightly
By MARY HOULIHAN For Sun-Times Media November 25, 2013 1:32PM
‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’
When: To Dec. 28
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N.
Tickets : $25-$83
Info: (312) 443-3800; goodmantheatre.org
Updated: November 25, 2013 7:16PM
A handful of holiday stagings of “A Christmas Carol” dots the theater landscape, but the granddaddy of them all is Tom Creamer’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, now in its 36th season at the Goodman Theatre. There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to let yourself be enveloped by this transformative tale of hope and redemption.
Dickens was a master storyteller and among his memorable characters is Ebenezer Scrooge, the stingy moneylender at the center of the tale. With six seasons playing Scrooge under his belt, Larry Yando is a model of humbug perfection. He disappears into the character, easily transforming into the ornery old guy.
The story of Scrooge and his Christmas Eve visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future is a familiar one. Scrooge has no regard for any of his acquaintances, from his oppressed clerk Bob Cratchit (Ron Rains) to his congenial nephew Fred (Anish Jethmalani) to the goodhearted couple (Steven Pringle, Sarah Chalcroft) who ask for a donation for the poor.
All Scrooge wants is to be left alone and enjoy a warm night’s sleep, but instead he receives a dire warning from Jacob Marley, his deceased business partner, and soon embarks on an eye-opening adventure during which he peruses the mistakes of his past, the problems of the present and the horrors of the future.
Henry Wishcamper, who joined the Goodman Artistic Collective in 2012 and earlier this year directed a critically acclaimed production of “Other Desert Cities,” takes his first turn at directing this annual production, easily blending the story’s serious message with moments of laughter. He is aided by an interesting and dependable cast made up of old hands and newcomers, many playing multiple roles.
New to the production are several standouts. Larry Neumann Jr. is hilarious as a demanding Dickensian schoolteacher. Robert Hope is the spitting image of Scrooge as a young man on his way to a bleak existence. A jolly A.C. Smith shines and literally glitters as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Actors may change but not much else does in this sturdy moneymaker. And that’s fine since Todd Rosenthal’s shifting set is a wonder; Heidi Sue McMath’s costumes are colorfully Victorian and Robert Christen’s lighting always sets the right mood. A quartet of musicians wanders throughout adding to the holiday spirit.
But it is undeniably Yando who is the magic behind this production. With each scowl, with each fearsome rebuke, with each newfound smile, with each look of astonishment, his Scrooge is a wonder to behold.