Charles Dickens has delighted us with the epic tale of “A Christmas Carol” since 1843 when it was first published in London by Chapman & Hall. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley along with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.
This story has become a traditional favorite during the holiday season. This timeless piece has given audiences– 1.5 million to be exact over a span of 40 years– a celebratory extravaganza of joy and holiday magical treat for kids as well as us grown-up kids.
Its poignant message about empathy, the treatment of the poor and the ability of a self-interested man redeeming himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character is priceless.
Goodman’s Theatre “A Christmas Carol” is filled with such a creative and diverse cast, which can reach beyond the original cast of actors. The production, which focuses on forgiveness, redemption and love, gives you an endearing sense of hope. It’s a feeling of having hope that people can truly change–and kudos to Goodman for their diversity in casting.
Larry Yando returned to the Goodman Theatre, where he previously appeared as Ebenezer Scrooge in nine productions of “A Christmas Carol.” He played this role to perfection. He was such a delight to watch as he convinced us with his charismatic wit transforming from a miser to a charming, cheerful guy by the end of the play.
Lisa Gaye Dixon, who played the part of The Ghost of Christmas Present, was simply amazing. She ruled the stage with her presence, and the interchange between her and Yando was truly believable. The cast of young performers such as Cameron Goode, Arina Burks, Maggie Chong, Andrea Crisp Kei and Aaron Stone were adorable. I especially enjoyed the song between Cameron and Andrea, which wasn’t a part of the original production.
This adaptation did however have a few changes. In this production, Goodman Theatre switched some things up to enhance the play by introducing us to the first girl ever to play Tiny Tim Cratchit (Paris Strickland); she was quite believable and loveable as the cripple son of Bob Cratchit. She was adorable and played the part of little Timmy Cratchit without flaw. She even had the limp of Tim being prone to wear crutches on every scene.
Also, a gender swap was incorporated by changing Scrooge’s nephew Fred to his niece Frida (Ali Burch). These changes are noticeable but don’t change the overall greatness of the play.
The set design on stage brought an animation of life to our imagination and made the audience feel like we were in the story. And the house of Scrooge was immaculate. I enjoyed Goodman staying with the original adaptation with a few unsettled changes. You can never get enough of that classic line, “bah-humbug,” even though I never understood its meaning as a child.
“A Christmas Carol” is much more than a holiday performance, it’s a heartwarming and endearing story about how family love can conquer all– even the meanness Scrooges of the world.
Goodman Theatre celebrates 40 years of “A Christmas Carol,” and we highly recommend you celebrate with them by seeing this wonderful production. “God bless us all.”
The Cast Includes:
Larry Yando (Scrooge)
Paris Strickland (Tiny Tim)
Ariana D. Burks (Martha Cratchit)
Lisa Gaye Dixon (Ghost of Christmas Present)
Joe Foust (Jacob Marley)
J. Salomé Martinez as (Abe)
Ron E. Rains (Bob Cratchit)
Sadieh Rifai (Mrs. Cratchit)
Penelope Walker (Mrs. Fezziwig)
Jonah D. Winston (Mr. Fezziwig; and musicians Justin Amolsch) Andrew Coil, Greg Hirte and Malcolm Ruhl.
The newcomers include Breon Arzell as Dick Wilkins; Molly Brennan as Ghost of Christmas Past; Ali Burch as Frida; Meighan Gerachis as Schoolmaster; and Michele Vazquez as Mrs. Cratchit.
The young performers in A Christmas Carol, cast from hundreds of Chicagoland children who auditioned, also include Margaret Chong, 10 (Chicago), as Emily Cratchit; Andrea Crisp, 10 (Darien), as Belinda Cratchit; Cameron Goode, 15 (Chicago), as Boy Scrooge; Kei, 9 (Chicago), as Turkey Boy; and Aaron Stone, 14 (Round Lake Beach), returning as Peter Cratchit.