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A Christmas Carol

November – December 2015

New Stages Features

  • Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol Through the Ages

  • Double the Humbug! A Conversation with A Christmas Carol‘s Two Scrooges Larry Yando and Allen Gilmore

  • A Costume Designer’s Perspective

  • Musical Director Malcolm Ruhl on Putting the ‘Carol’ in A Christmas Carol

  • Share the Joy Day: The Goodman Gives Back

  • Charles Dickens: A Biography

The Production

  • A Christmas Carol

  • Cast Profiles

The Theater

  • A Brief History of Goodman Theatre

  • Ticket Information, Parking, Restaurants and More

  • Staff

Leadership and Support

  • Civic Committee

  • Leadership

  • Support

Kid-friendly Content

  • Bob Cratchit’s Guide to Theater Etiquette

  • Mr. Fezziwig’s Guide to 19th Century England

  • The Ghost of Christmas Past’s Guide to the History of Christmas

  • Bob Cratchit’s Guide to Theater Etiquette

  • Game: Spot the Differences with the Ghost of Christmas Present

  • Mr. Fezziwig’s Guide to 19th Century England

  • The Ghost of Christmas Past’s Guide to the History of Christmas

At the Goodman

  • What’s Next


Co-Editors: Neena Arndt, Lori Kleinerman, Michael Mellini

Graphic Designer: Cori Lewis

Production Manager: Michael Mellini

Contributing Writers/Editors: Neena Arndt, Lori Kleinerman, Julie Massey, Michael Mellini, Teresa Rende, Steve Scott
Founder and Editor-in-Chief: Rance Crain

Publisher: David Snyder

Crain’s Custom Media a division of Crain’s Chicago Business, serves as the publisher for Goodman Theatre’s program books. Crain’s Custom Media provides production, printing, and media sales services for Goodman Theatre’s program books. For more details or to secure advertising space in the programs, please contact:

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Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol Through the Ages
For 38 years, the Goodman’s annual production of A Christmas Carol has delighted audiences across Chicago and has become one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. First performed in 1978 at the Goodman’s original venue at the Art Institute of Chicago, the holiday show has been seen by over 1.2 million people. Throughout nearly four decades, A Christmas Carol has hosted 10 directors, 33 Tiny Tims and eight Ebenezer Scrooges who collectively have uttered nearly 23,000 “Bah Humbugs!”

1978: To attract audiences during the traditionally slow holiday season, Goodman Theatre General Manager (now Executive Director) Roche Schulfer and then-Artistic Director Gregory Mosher mount a stage version of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Using an adaptation by Guthrie Theater Dramaturg Barbara Field and directed by Tony Mockus, the production is the Goodman’s most ambitious project to date, and features noted Chicago actor William J. Norris as Scrooge. The production is a critical and audience triumph, and is brought back in 1979 for the first of its now-annual revivals. Norris would play Scrooge for 11 seasons, more than any other actor in the show’s 38-year run.

1984: For the first (and only) time in its history, the Goodman production moves to the Auditorium Theatre, featuring a new Scrooge (Frank Galati), a new script (by Larry Sloan) and a new production under the direction of Gregory Mosher. In addition, this iteration inaugurates the concept of color-blind and non-traditional casting, a concept which continues today.

1985: The production returns to the Goodman stage with Sandra Grand directing and William J. Norris once again playing Scrooge. The production also returns with the original scenic design by Joseph Nieminski and lighting design by Robert Christen, who would design lighting for every production of A Christmas Carol until his untimely death in 2014.

1987: Now under the direction of Associate Artistic Director Michael Maggio, the production celebrates its 10th anniversary. For the first time A Christmas Carol is also used to raise funds for Season of Concern, the theater industry charity that provides assistance for theater artists dealing with AIDS and other medical emergencies; this fundraising effort becomes an annual tradition for the show.

1989: Goodman Theatre Associate Producer (now Producer) Steve Scott takes over the production as director, with a new adaptation by Goodman Dramaturg Tom Creamer. This adaptation is still in use today.

1991: William J. Norris deeds his whiskers to a new Scrooge, Tom Mula, who will stay with the production for six seasons. Norris remains with the production for a number of seasons, eventually playing Jacob Marley, Mr. Ortle and the joyful Fezziwig.

1993: Steve Scott passes the directing torch to Resident Director Chuck Smith, who helms the production for three years.

1996: Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez begins a six-year tenure as director of the production, helping the show make its transition from the old Goodman Theatre building to its new and current home on Dearborn Street in 2000. Godinez is not new to the show, however—as an actor he appeared as Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, in 1987. Other seasons’ casts have also included Godinez’s wife, actress Nancy Voigts, and his daughter Lucy.

1998: Tom Mula steps down as Scrooge to perform his one-man version of the story, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, in the Goodman Studio for two seasons. He is replaced by veteran actor Rick Snyder, who had appeared as Bob Cratchit in 1992.
2000: The closing night of A Christmas Carol marks the final performance in the old Goodman Theatre, with the current cast being joined onstage by dozens of veterans of previous productions.

2001: Henry Godinez helms a glittering new production in the Goodman’s new Albert Theatre, featuring a massive set by Tony Award-winning designer Todd Rosenthal; although periodic changes are made, this set is still used today.

2002: Kate Buckley becomes the new director of the production, bringing with her a new Scrooge, William Brown.

2006: Scrooge becomes the director! William Brown takes the directing reigns from Kate Buckley, and will hold the position for four seasons. Brown casts Jonathan Weir as Scrooge.

2007: Chicago actor Larry Yando takes over the iconic role of Scrooge alongside Ron E. Rains as Bob Cratchit; aside from a hiatus in 2010, Yando has continued with the role ever since.
2010: While Larry Yando travels to Boston with the Goodman production of Candide, respected veteran actor John Judd steps into the role of Scrooge.
2011: Steve Scott returns to the production as director for two seasons, with Larry Yando once again playing Scrooge.

2013: The Goodman’s newest Artistic Associate, Henry Wishcamper, becomes director of the production and institutes a new era for A Christmas Carol. Wishcamper’s production features an elegantly redesigned Scrooge bedroom unit, as well as more chilling ghost effects.
2015: Goodman Theatre celebrates its 90th Anniversary Season and its 38th production of A Christmas Carol.

Double the Humbug: A Conversation with A Christmas Carol’s Two Scrooges Larry Yando and Allen Gilmore
By Michael Mellini

For eight seasons Jeff Award-winning actor Larry Yando (The Goodman’s The Little Foxes and The Jungle Book) has simultaneously frightened and delighted theatergoers with his performance as greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge. Jeff-nominated actor Allen Gilmore also appears on the Albert stage as the miserly Scrooge, performing the role at select performances. Shortly before performances began, Yando and Gilmore spoke with OnStage Editor Michael Mellini about the joys of playing such a curmudgeon and why performing in the Goodman’s annual production is truly a unique experience.

Michael Mellini: Scrooge is such an iconic role. How do you approach playing him and does your performance change each year?

Larry Yando: My first year was about trying to fit into the production and learn all the technical aspects because it had already been going for so many years at that point. At the same time, [director] Bill Brown allowed me a lot of freedom to explore the character so I never felt any boundaries. You can do any number of productions of A Christmas Carol with cutesy, fun Scrooges, but I didn’t hold back from his dark side. For someone like Scrooge, who is so closed off to the world, I tried to start from the deepest, darkest place I could imagine. His journey is deeply human. I like to play damaged individuals because repairing that damage is interesting to me as an actor and, I would imagine, the thousands of people who come to see the play. People can relate to trying to find the light in a dark world and learning to let go of pain and fear. I still do that every year.

Allen Gilmore: This is my second year playing Scrooge, so I’m still exploring the role a bit and some things may change as I continue to learn and observe. Similar to how Larry once did, I stepped into a role and production that had been done many times; my approach involved an understanding that I must fulfill [the requirements] of very specific moments of the show and the role.

MM: What attracts you to return to
A Christmas Carol each year?

LY: It’s the audiences. This is one of those basic stories that so many people can relate to and I see the relief and joy on their faces every year, even if they know what’s going to happen in the play. It gives people hope at a time of year that can be stressful. It’s a deeply moving story and I feel like I get to bring people along on a journey.

AG: I love the spirit of the season and the Goodman knows how to do Christmas. The cast always has so much fun on stage and off with things like Secret Santas, potluck dinners, baked goodies in the green room, a dressing room decorating competition, etc. There are a lot of wonderful traditions that make the backstage atmosphere quite different from other shows.

MM: Do you have a favorite part of the play or any favorite memories of performing in it?

LY: It’s fun to play Scrooge’s mean side, but I really enjoy the last 15 minutes of the play when everything gets brighter and happier for Scrooge. He becomes very present in his life and sees everything anew. One year, during one of the final scenes when Scrooge visits Fred’s house and embraces his nephew, it was totally silent as we hugged. Then, a tiny kid’s voice came from the balcony and just shouted, “Yay!” He was just so happy and relieved, and that’s kind of how everyone feels. We had to hold the show for a minute while the entire audience and cast laughed.

AG: I love the live music in the play, especially during Fezziwig’s party. And, of course, I love the flight that takes Scrooge back in time to his youth. I look forward to performing that again this year.

MM: Are there any holidays from your own past or even future you would like to be able to visit like Scrooge?

LY: I don’t quite know if this counts, but over the years I’ve missed a lot of weddings, holidays, funerals and other special occasions because I was in shows and wasn’t always able to get to those places. Looking back, I would have tried to not miss as many. I take performing very seriously because many people count on you; you can’t always take time off in the way you can with some jobs. So I would like to go back and see the things I may have missed.

AG: As I have gotten older, I find myself reflecting on my childhood Christmases. I loved our simple little aluminum tree and the light next to it that changed the color of the tree as it rotated on a disk. I would sit and watch it for long periods, marveling at its beauty.

MM: Do you have any other favorite Scrooges from film, television or theater?

LY: I always thought Alastair Sim [in the 1951 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol] was the best. I saw that as a kid and it made a deep impression on me. My performance is quite different from his, though.

AG: I love Alastair Sim as well; he was a terrific Scrooge. I also had the pleasure of being on stage with another wonderful Scrooge, John Anderson, the great television and film star of years past. And then there is Larry Yando, who is my patron saint and guiding light in the role. I’ve had the great benefit of watching his superb performance and learning from him. It’s been the best of situations to step into A Christmas Carol on his watch along with Henry Wishcamper, our great director.

A Costume Designer’s Perspective
For 15 years, Goodman Theatre’s Costume Shop Manager Heidi Sue McMath has designed the elaborate costumes for A Christmas Carol. With her designs, McMath has brought life to the many inhabitants of Victorian London, as well as the supernatural spirits who visit Scrooge. These designs can change each year pending the arrival of new cast members or a shift in a director’s vision. Above are sketches of McMath’s costumes featured in this year’s production.
Musical Director Malcolm Ruhl on Putting the ‘Carol’ in A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol’s Musical Director Malcolm Ruhl returns for his 11th production this season, where he can be seen on stage throughout the show playing various instruments alongside three other musicians. Below, Ruhl explains the role of a musical director and reveals why he loves performing in A Christmas Carol every year.

The duties of a musical director vary from production to production and can include everything from participation in the casting of actors, contracting musicians, teaching music to the singers, accompanying rehearsals, conducting and leading rehearsals for the musicians, to re-orchestrating the score. For A Christmas Carol, which is a play with music (as opposed to a musical play), I oversee the live musical aspects of the production. The music we play and sing often changes from year to year as a result of changes in the director’s vision of the play or to take advantage of the specific talents of the current production’s performers. We try to make sure that there’s always something new and special for audience members who return every year.

I play three different instruments in A Christmas Carol: accordion, concertina (a sort of a smaller version of an accordion that has buttons instead of a keyboard) and nylon-string classical guitar. Of the three, the guitar is the most period-correct for the settings of A Christmas Carol. Over the years we have conducted a fair amount of research on music from Dickens’ era. Though the musical instruments we play may not always be exactly period-correct, the music itself is always fitting of the times, authentically evoking the culture of each of the different classes of English society that turn up in the play.

For me, returning to this show each year feels like attending a family reunion. There’s always a mix of new and returning cast members. It’s like going to a holiday gathering where family members bring a new friend or significant other. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of amazing Chicago actors during the last 11 years of A Christmas Carol, several of whom have since gone on to perform on Broadway. The cast lists from the play’s 38-year history read like a “who’s who” of the Chicago theater community. This year is like an extra special holiday reunion for me because my daughter Maddi is in the cast. She is a brilliant musician and has exactly the right skills and temperament for her role. She has also seen the show every year that I have been in it! We have performed together before, but this will be the first time we have worked together on stage in a professional theater production. She recently moved to Portland, Oregon, but thanks to A Christmas Carol, she is back in Chicago for 10 weeks. I literally get to celebrate the holidays with family on stage!

Year after year I’m always energized by the timeless and universal messages of the play. This is a story that asks questions about what it means to be human, as an individual and as a member of humanity as a whole. It also addresses human suffering and how we choose to deal with it in its various forms. We all have obstacles we strive to overcome, and in our efforts to do so we hopefully work toward some measure of success. That success might be adequately providing for one’s family, the accumulation of ever-greater amounts of wealth, or in less quantifiable ways, transforming ourselves into the people we want to be. It might even be survival in the most literal sense. Although most of us are not as personally isolated or financially wealthy as Scrooge is at the beginning of the play, we are all vulnerable to falling into his self-serving, self-centered way of looking at the world—especially now that we live extremely busy modern lives, where everybody’s going in a million different directions at once. We often don’t make time to recognize and nurture the important human connections that we all need. A Christmas Carol reminds me of the perils of forgetting that and the rewards of remembering it. Given that there is always something new going on in the world that seems uncannily relevant to the text in a social or political sense, or perhaps because of new personal struggles we may be facing as individuals, walking through this journey together as a company every year only adds to the depth of our on- and off-stage relationships. Once again, I’m thrilled to share the Christmas Carol experience with this company and our wonderful Chicago audiences.

Share the Joy Day: The Goodman Gives Back
By Teresa Rende

Since 2009, the Goodman has been spreading holiday cheer to service men and women and their families during our annual production of A Christmas Carol with the special Community Day and Share the Joy Day events. It started simply enough. The final performance of A Christmas Carol in 2009 landed on New Year’s Eve, and, given the holiday, seats to the performance were readily available. Folks at the Goodman recognized this as an opportunity to share the fabulous production with a local, charitable partner and launched Community Day. Willa Taylor, Walter Director of Education and Community Engagement and a navy veteran, made no hesitation in her suggestion of the Illinois USO. That year, the Goodman provided 500 tickets to servicemen and women (and their families) who were about to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq; it was our small way to thank them for their service. The performance was flanked by lobby celebrations, including pre- and post show performances by the rock band Fair Herald, cameos by Illinois representatives Mike Quigley and family photos with Scrooge and Santa.

In 2010, the Goodman expanded its celebration and gave away every ticket to the final performance of A Christmas Carol. The primary beneficiary remained the Illinois USO, with additional families served by the Ronald McDonald House Charities and Snow City Arts Foundation, women and children from the Maria Shelter and men and women from the Lincoln Park Community Shelter. The lobby celebrations included a performance by ChiArts High School’s jazz band, costumed characters, cameos by Governor Pat Quinn and Albert Goodman and another New Year’s Eve launch.

With Community Day solidified as a Goodman Theatre tradition, each successive year has brought more opportunities to celebrate the Illinois USO, while partnering with new local charities, Goodman program participants, local musicians and performers. In 2013, the celebration formerly known as Community Day became Share the Joy Day, and moved from the end of the play’s run to the very first performance, making it the launch of A Christmas Carol season at the Goodman. Over the years, charitable beneficiaries have included Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, The Odyssey Project, the 100 Club of Chicago, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers, the Warrenville Juvenile Detention Center, the Dovetail Project, 360 Youth Services, the Veterans Ticket Foundation, The Fraternal Order of Police and Children’s Memorial Hospital, as well as Goodman program participants from the Goodman Youth Arts Council, Student Subscription Series and GeNarrations. This year, the event also benefitted organizations committed to eradicating violence from the streets of Chicago. Lobby performances and special appearances have included Terri Hemmert of WXRT, the Schurz High School choir, Chicago Math and Science Academy band and cast members from TV’s Chicago Fire. The seventh annual Share the Joy Day was celebrated this year on November 14, 2015, once again with the Illinois USO!

Charles Dickens: A Biography
By: Neena Arndt

Charles Dickens was born February 7, 1812, the second of eight children. His father, John Dickens, worked as a naval pay clerk, but his poor financial habits landed him in debtor’s prison when the younger Dickens was 12. While the rest of his family was imprisoned with his father, Charles was forced to work in a blacking factory for several months, pasting labels on shoe polish bottles. Throughout the ordeal, Dickens worked six days a week in sordid conditions while missing his family and longing to return to school. When his father finally declared bankruptcy, the family was reunited and Dickens resumed his education. Then, at 15, Dickens took a job in an attorney’s office; a few years later he began to work as a freelance reporter. In 1833 his first stories, Sketches By Boz, were published in a magazine. He then began to write novels in serial form: chapters were published one at a time, leaving readers clamoring to buy the following edition so they could find out what happened next. Dickens would eventually become known for such works as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and Nicholas Nickleby; to this day, his books have never gone out of print in England.

Many of Dickens’ works are concerned with the socioeconomic problems of the increasingly industrial society in which he lived: child labor, low pay for factory workers and increasing social stratification. His own dismal experience as a child factory worker both haunted and inspired him for the remainder of his life, and his work often critiqued the lack of education and opportunity for poor children in Victorian England. Dickens penned A Christmas Carol in 1844. It became instantaneously popular and has inspired enduring admiration over the 171 years since its publication. Later in his life, Dickens toured Great Britain and America giving public readings of his works. Together with his literary celebrity, the dramatic readings catapulted him to the 19th century equivalent of rock star status. He continued to write until his death in 1870.

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