A holiday must-see: Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has long been a holiday institution, but unless you’ve seen Goodman Theatre’s annual production of the classic play, you’ve been missing out. Returning for its 36th year as Chicago’s go-to adaptation of the Christmas classic, Goodman promises not to disappoint even the biggest holiday humbug in your family.

Even if you have seen Goodman’s production of “A Christmas Carol” sometime in the last 35 years, there’s still plenty to enjoy in this year’s adaptation. Despite becoming a Chicago institution, the show has evolved considerably in the nearly four decades it’s been playing. As Assistant Director Margaret Smith explained prior to the show, actors and set pieces are frequently reused year after year, and every facet of the show is improved upon whenever possible.

New this year is Scrooge’s bedroom set, built with an eerie sideways lean to it that makes it look almost like a haunted house.

The Goodman’s state-of-the-art production design team doesn’t pull any punches in lighting or sound design either. The Ghost of Christmas Past gets an added layer of uneasiness thanks to a vocal filter that distorts her voice, and the lighting for the “Christmas Yet to Come” scenes is suitably bleak and foreboding. Even if you know the play line-for-line, you won’t be bored for a minute during this production.

The cast for the show remains as strong as ever. Larry Yando returns for his fifth stint as Ebenezer Scrooge at Goodman. He does well as the play’s central character, and his added bits of humor, particularly after Scrooge’s jolly transformation at the play’s conclusion, are supremely enjoyable. The extensive cast of children is also notable, with each youngster pulling their own weight and delivering great performances.

There is little that can be said about “A Christmas Carol” that has never been said before, but one thing is for sure: Goodman’s production is not to be missed.

Stay in the loop with other Goodman productions in the coming year and take advantage of their program that offers $10 tickets for students which is “cheaper than a movie!” as Goodman’s press release proudly proclaims. Their 2014 season is filled with diverse and riveting new plays that make this deal even more of a bargain.

“A Christmas Carol” runs at Goodman Theatre (170 N. Dearborn Street) through December 28.