A Christmas Carol | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

A Christmas Carol 

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A Christmas Carol, Goodman Theatre. The Goodman's new digs allow this old story to take flight in often breathtaking style. Ghosts appear from above (the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Karl Michael Maschek, flies in and out of scenes with Scrooge in tow) and disappear below (Marley, played by William Brown, is swallowed up by a fearsome display of pyrotechnics). But the brilliant technical aspects of this new production and the unvarnished sentiment of Dickens's story aren't always effectively blended. Rick Snyder's raspy, fast-talking Scrooge sacrifices some clarity and nuance in the longer speeches, and director Henry Godinez's staging is a tad plodding, as if he were still trying to figure out how to fill the larger space.

However, Todd Rosenthal's sets and Robert Christen's lighting are admirably detailed without being excessive, and neither Godinez nor adapter Tom Creamer shies away from the tale's grim undertones. A strong supporting cast bolsters the proceedings, particularly William J. Norris as the creepy undertaker-narrator, Brown as a sleazy pawnbroker, Joe Sikora as the repressed Young Man Scrooge, and the always delightful Ora Jones as the expansive Ghost of Christmas Present. Never has that specter's speech about those who "do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name" resonated as deeply as it does now, at the end of a most somber year.

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