Goodman Theatre Presents BAH, HUMBUG! A CHRISTMAS CAROL Review –Dickens is in Residence

CHARLES DICKENS’ CHRISTMAS CAROL-3
The cast of A Christmas Carol, directed by Henry Wishcamper at Goodman Theatre Photo: Liz Lauren

Goodman Theatre’s 39th Production

Now in its 39th year and with new stage magic, Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol proves there is no better way to get into the holiday spirit.
Charles Dickens’ tale of hope and redemption extols his very days in a work house as a lad when his father had been jailed in the pauper prison.   I attended a sold-out 12 noon matinee and the house was full of excited teenagers.  There was a noticeable swoon and hush that fell over the audience when Travis A. Knight as Ghost of Christmas Past flew in dressed (or maybe I should say “undressed”) as a Baroque angel with gigantic white wings.  He took Ebenezer off on his journey and the two floated effortlessly about the stage.  The flying alone was worth the price of admission.  No visible wires at any time.

Standout Performances

Leading a cast of 24-actors is Larry Yando, a Chicago stalwart who, as Ebenezer Scrooge, journeys through his past, present and future to discover the importance of kindness and compassion toward others.  The highly talented, engaging and classically trained Penelope Walker brings that smile that just never dies to the stage as she plays Mrs. Crumb and Mrs. Fezziweg. John Lister is a jolly, convincing and honest Mr. Fezziweg; the two make a great couple. Kristina Valada-Viars plays a double role of Frieda and Belle and turns in a fine classical performance brimming with excellent diction and conviction.

High Production Value

This production of A Christmas Carol is designed for families and is a big money maker for Goodman Theatre.  The company has invested wisely and gives the audience every bang for its buck with opera style set pieces and grand over-sized spectacle.  Broadway’s Todd Rosenthal has designed the almost fairy tale settings to much success and audience approval.  Heidi Sue McMath gives us opera house-like wardrobe with rich colors and plenty of fabric.  She must have had a very large budget because the costumes delight the eyes.  Then come the special effects:  The first of the special effects begins with Joe Foust as Jacob Marley appearing in Ebenezer’s flying bed; the audience was quiet and very attentive with this probably being the very first time the majority of the youthful audience had seen such a special effect on a stage.  Mr. Foust’s voice boomed throughout the cavernous theatre and scared everyone.

CHARLES DICKENS’ CHRISTMAS CAROL-9
Larry Yando (Ebenezer Scrooge), Aaron Lamm (Boy Scrooge), Emma Ladji (Martha Cratchit) and Travis A. Knight Photo: Liz Lauren

Opener is Best

Act I is perfection but Act II becomes too preachy and wordy.  The action certainly picks up with the appearance again of Mr. Foust as Old Joe, the man who deals in stolen merchandise usually from the dead.  A pre-recorded musical score gave the experience a Victorian England feeling supplanted with on-stage musicians.  Henry Wishkamper directs.

Amazing Logistics

At my performance, Santa Claus was in an opposite box and drew approval from the audience, and even more so when the audience exited the theatre and he held court and posed for photos with all of the kids.  I still do not know how the logistics of filling that 2,000-seat house worked!  At ten minutes prior to curtain the house was about 40% full and within minutes it was at capacity.  The same thing happened at the final curtain: within 10-minutes all of the students were whisked away on their school buses and my memory of A Christmas Carol was all in my mind and heart: the glory of legitimate theatre – it exists but for a moment.

Special for Hockey Fans

Goodman Theatre proudly announces A Christmas Carol partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks in two special events this December. On December 14, the Goodman welcomes Chicago Blackhawks Ambassador and Hall-of-Famer Denis Savard to the stage for a one-night-only cameo appearance in A Christmas Carol.  Savard will don costumes created especially for him and appear in select scenes, take a bow and sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” at curtain call. The fun continues off the stage with the #HawksAndHumbug social media contest, which launches on December 14. Fans who show their Blackhawks pride using #HawksAndHumbug on Twitter or Instagram will be entered to win a free VIP experience—a winner plus guest will watch the December 27 Hawks game with Savard and “Ebenezer Scrooge” at the United Center.

Scrooge will lace up his skates and hit the ice for “Shoot the Puck” during intermission. For specially priced tickets to “Blackhawks Night” at the Goodman on December 14,” call the Goodman Theatre Box Office at 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org; use promo code HUMBUG to get 25% off mezzanine seating. To enter the free #HawksAndHumbug social media contest for two tickets to the December 27 Blackhawks game, use the special hash tag in posts on Twitter and Instagram.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Who would like this production:  Families of all ages and children over the age of ten who enjoy the Christmas season.

CHARLES DICKENS’ CHRISTMAS CAROL-8
Joe Foust (Jacob Marley) and Larry Yando (Ebenezer Scrooge) Photo: Liz Lauren

When:

Through December 31, 2016:
Mondays: December 26 at 2pm and 7.30pm
Tuesdays: December 13, 20, 27 at 7.30pm; 2pm matinee performance on December 27
Wednesdays: 7.30pm; 12pm performance on December 14; 2pm matinee performance on December 21
Thursdays: 7.30pm; 2pm matinee performance on December 22 and 29
Fridays: 8pm; 2pm matinee performance on December 23
Saturdays: 2pm and 8pm; No evening performance on December 24 and 31
Sundays: 2pm and 6.30pm; No evening performance on December 25

Where:

Goodman Theatre
170 North Dearborn
Chicago

Tickets:

$40-$105;
To obtain tickets visit Goodmantheatre.org/Carol
Or, Box Office Hours: 12noon – 5pm
T. 312.443.3800
MezzTix – Half price the day of performance. Use promo code MEZZTIX10Tix Day of performance student $10 tickets; limit four with valid student ID Use (promo code 10TIX)

Group Sales: Discounted Tickets for parties of 15 or more – 312.443.3820

Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn, Chicago
Visit Goodman Theatre.org/Access to learn more about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.

Photos: Liz Lauren

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *