I have been going to see “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman ever since I was a little girl. It has always been a special tradition, curling my hair into ringlets and putting on my favorite red velvet dress with white lace around the collar, and going to see the heart-warming holiday tale. Each year I was enchanted, surprised and inspired.
This year was no different. While I am partial to the story, every time I see it I am just that much older and wiser, and even though I can probably recite the show line for line, I am always astonished on how it hits me differently each year. It is easy to connect and identify with Ebenezer Scrooge on some level, and while you may not be muttering “Bah Humbug” to Salvation Army donation collectors on a frosty winter night, you’ve probably felt the sting of a friend dying close to the holidays, or being alone on Christmas, or even feeling remorse for people you’ve hurt over the years. While I am still young, a wise person once told me that there will be many holiday seasons that will be bursting with light and love, and some that will be sad, and that’s just how life is.
What fascinates me the most, now and back when I was younger, is the transformation Scrooge undergoes all in one night. He is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, and each ghost makes him recognize his mistakes and what he can do to change his fate, since his time is not up yet. And he always wakes up in a frantic resolve to be better, to be more giving. His time is not up yet. I always imagine some of the people in the audience feeling the same way, relating to Scrooge’s initial bitterness and his transformation to be a more generous man with the rest of the time he has left. I remember thinking that maybe if everyone saw this play and heard this story, they would do their best to be better too. Wishful thinking for a 7-year-old, I know. As I said, I’ve been going to see this show for as long as I can remember, but this year, I felt that same feeling that I used to feel. I didn’t feel like a jaded teenager, but like a little girl. Touched by the same twinkling, hopeful resolve that this show always comes to.
Whether it was the updated set pieces that still maintained the old England style or the modernized ghosts or Wishcamper’s direction of Scrooge that made the character more accessible than I remember, I don’t know. But Tom Creamer’s modern adaptation of the show really connected with the audience. The ghost of Christmas past twinkled like lights on a Christmas tree and flew around the stage, literally. The ghost of Christmas present threw glitter confetti. The ghost of Christmas future stood just as a skyscraper looms over a city. It was fun. Larry Yando, the actor who plays Scrooge, provided the perfect amount of comic relief to his crotchety old character. It made him more accessible, and therefore made him more relatable in his transformation.
Under Wishcamper’s innovative direction, this show brought back some of the magic that I always think of when I remember seeing it as a little girl. It brought back the hope and joy that we always think of when we think of the holiday season. It reminded us that it’s alright to relax, enjoy the company of friends and family, and that everyone can afford to give a little in the spirit of the holidays. And in our busy, bustling lifestyles that never seem to let us take a break, we could benefit from some of that Christmas charm.