Regional Reviews: Chicago
A Christmas Carol
The major change, and it's a big one, is in the casting of John Judd as Scrooge, replacing Larry Yando who's out in Washington DC with the Goodman's Candide. Judd's take on the role is less idiosyncratic and less broadly comic than Yando's. Judd's Scrooge is rather believable, in fact. As the story opens, he shows the miser to be quite resolute in his skinflinty waysso sure of himself that perhaps he doesn't need to over-communicate his philosophies regarding social welfare and fiscal austerity. He's not the "boo-hiss" villain to which we're more accustomed, and his transformation to a kind and generous man is less of a leap, but since we don't initially hate him so much, perhaps we're happier to see him redeemed.
The other significant casting change from last year's production (reviewed here) is in the portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Past by a woman (Susan Shunk). Dressed in a vest and tights, she has a certain Peter Pan quality and energy (and she does fly) that is a fun departure from other takes on the character. Returning as the Ghost of Christmas Present is Penelope Walker, delightfully affable in her bright red hoop dress. Ron Rains also repeats his alternately comic and brave Bob Cratchit. Anish Jethmalani is again the zombie Jacob Marley, introduced to us through some nifty special effects.
The Goodman's A Christmas Carol is a great showcase for the theater artists of all disciplinesand a relatively rare opportunity in the Chicago non-profit theater scene for production designers to fully show their stuff. Of course the classic story works as well as everthough maybe in the current economic climate its resonance has edged closer to Dickens' social commentary and farther away from fable.
A Christmas Carol runs through December 31, 2010, in the Goodman's Albert Theater. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at www.GoodmanTheatre.org, by phone at 312-443-3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn).