Jessica Thebus has done it again. The director’s fourth year at the helm of the Goodman Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is her most triumphant yet. Bold and energetic, this Carol offers a much-needed burst of holiday cheer.
The plot is familiar to most of us: miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by a trio of spirits, who show him Christmas in the past, present, and future, which convinces the man to change his ways and become kind and generous. Charles Dickens’ story has been in the public domain for years, and adaptations of the popular tale are plentiful. The devil, or in this case I suppose, the spirits, is in the details, and as always, Thebus and the cast and crew of Goodman’s A Christmas Carol nail every last one.
Watching this production year after year offers a unique chance to watch the play grow and change. Changes in casting, design, and directorial choices help keep it fresh, while the core story, as well as the expectation of quality, remain the same. One highlight of this year’s production is Mr. Fezziwig, played by the charming and exuberant Robert Schleifer. Rather than speaking, Mr. Fezziwig signs all his lines, with another actor voicing them. Other characters respond with sign language as well, and this welcoming of the Deaf community into the world of the show is a lovely addition.
Indeed, the world of Thebus’ A Christmas Carol is a world with space for all kinds of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, body size, ability, or gender. The one element that unites the cast is their extraordinary talent. Whether it’s Yando flawlessly portraying protagonist Scrooge or non-speaking musician Gregory Hirte wowing the audience with violin skill, everyone on stage is perfectly cast by Lauren Port and Rachael Jimenez. Fly director Andrea Gentry brings the magic with the beautifully executed flying sequences. Child actor Viva Boresi strikes an eerie figure as Child in Doorway & Mirror and Ignorance, but offers oodles of charm as Pratt and Emily Cratchit. Everyone involved in creating the new imagery for the Ghost of Christmas Future, which is reminiscent of the Fates from Greek mythology, ate and left no crumbs. My point is, a huge number of people are involved in creating Goodman’s A Christmas Carol, and if I had time and patience enough, I could find something glowing to say about each and every one of them.
It’s not Christmas in Chicago until A Christmas Carol opens at the Goodman Theatre. Now that the holiday season has begun, it’s well worth the ticket price to go and be dazzled by the city’s quintessential Christmas experience. Some traditions never grow old, and this is surely one of them.
Location: The Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn Street
Dates: November 18 – December 31, 2023
Tickets: $33 – $159. Available on the Goodman Theatre’s website or by phone at 312.443.3800. See the website for information about accessible performances.
All photos by Liz Lauren.