Theater Review: Gold Standard of Dickensian Joy is Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – With a Chicago tradition that goes back four decades, the Goodman Theatre presents their holiday chestnut ‘A Christmas Carol’ for 2019, and it is simply stellar. The performance, stage design and extended story lights up the room with Christmas delight, and veteran lead actor Larry Yando again takes on the venerable Ebenezer Scrooge, who spends every Christmas Eve on the edge of redemption … ever since Charles Dickens first publish the story in 1843! Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 5.0/5.0
Play Rating: 5.0/5.0

The play is revealed at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago’s Loop, through December 29th. Click here for details and tickets.

What is essential about the Goodman’s rendering is the attention to Dickensian detail. The world they create on stage is authentic and puts old Ebenezer in a setting that evokes mid-19th century Victorian England. The transitions are flawless, a testament to both the length of time the Theatre has put on the play, and the hand of Set Designer Todd Rosenthal to think outside the box. There is a mystery to this “Carol” that strengthens the whole experience.

Marley (Kareem Bandealy) and Scrooge (Larry Yando) in ‘A Christmas Carol’
Photo credit:

I almost feel ridiculous summarizing the plot but Ebenezer Scrooge (Larry Yando) is a miserly capitalist, torturing his only employee Bob Crachit (Thomas J. Cox) at the holiday season. The Yuletide is reminder of past sins for Scrooge, including the loss of his partner Jacob Marley (Kareem Bandealy) seven years before on Christmas Eve. After walking home that very night, Marley’s ghost appears before him, and warns him if he doesn’t repent he is in for a difficult afterlife. The Ghosts of Past, Present and Yet to Come take care of the rest of the story.

Larry Yando is doing a role that he first took on in 2007. His Scrooge has some serious anger in the beginning, but lightens as the Ghosts permeate his being, and the actor brings welcome humor to a story that is in everyone’s DNA (at least for Ebe-geezers like me). He develops the role step by step, to give the character’s redemption some extra sweetening. Yando is a pleaser Ebenezer.

The rest of the cast is top drawer, with stand-outs being Bandealy’s Marley, a true scary ghost (helped with some excellent sound design by Richard Woodbury), and a gender change of Scrooge’s nephew to niece, Frida (not Fred). Ali Burch deepens the relationship in the niece/Scrooge realm, and creates some touching moments. Finally Jonah D. Winston as party monster Fezziwig generates the spirits of the season through one character. The key to the cast is diversity, and they all deliver this evergreen Yuletide treat.

Cast Scene from Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’
Photo credit:

“Hey you, boy, what’s today?” Scrooge proclaims to his future turkey procurer. It’s Christmas Day, of course, and Charles Dickens has added another legend to the holidays through Ebenezer Scrooge, destined toward happiness every Christmas Eve. “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.” Happy Holidays from Goodman Theatre.

The Goodman Theatre presents ‘A Christmas Carol’ through December 29th, 2019, Wednesdays-Sunday (click link in first paragraph for details) at 170 North Dearborn, Chicago. Adapted for the stage by Tom Creamer, from the novel by Charles Dickens. Director by Henry Wishcamper. For more information about the Goodman, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions