Friday, December 9, 2011

A First Meeting With A Christmas Carol

By Ilene Sørbøe, Artistic Intern and Assistant to the Director of A Christmas Carol

I was born and raised in Norway. This August, I moved to Chicago to be an artistic intern at Goodman Theatre for the fall season. I was informed beforehand that I would be working on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I had an idea of the story—its plot, characters and message. What I did not know was the production’s deeply rooted tradition in American theater. It didn’t take me long to realize just how much this Christmas tale means to the Goodman’s audiences.

The holidays are a time of traditions. Year after year, we hang up the same Christmas decorations, eat the same food and listen to the same Christmas music. These actions are more than a routine or a habit. We do them because they are necessary steps towards finding our Christmas spirit. These steps worked last year, and the year before last year—why fix something if it isn’t broken?

Photo: Larry Yando (Ebenezer Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol. Photo by Eric Y. Exit.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas in the Owen

By Liz Rice, Education and Community Engagement Intern

With Christmas just a few weeks away, the sights, sounds, and spirits (both literal and theoretical) of the holiday have taken over the Goodman. A Christmas Carol is in full swing in the Albert Theatre, but the Dickensian classic isn’t the only holiday show up and running—on December 5, Congo Square Theatre Company opened their holiday show, an interpretation of the birth of Jesus, The Nativity, in the Owen. Adapted from Langston Hughes’ gospel musical, Black Nativity, The Nativity features not only gospel, but soul, blues and R & B music with extraordinary dance numbers by the cast and soloists Kathleen Purcell Turner (Mary) and Kevin Dirckson (Joseph), who execute the passion and emotion of Mary and Joseph through choreographed modern dance routines.

In the swift two-hour show, the angel Gabriel narrates the birth of Jesus Christ through the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The story begins as Mary is called on by the angel and told that she is the mother of the son of God, and follows her and her betrothed, Joseph, as they travel to Bethlehem and later Egypt. The set calls to mind the arid desert of Israel under Roman rule, and Congo Square mixes in aspects of traditional African culture into the story through tribal dance, costumes, and the use of a stool, a symbol of royalty power for the Ashanti people and other African cultures. Musical numbers like “God is Good” gracefully demonstrate these multicultural mixtures in the pretext of modern music.

The Nativity’s story may be over 2000 years old, but the production is young and fresh, enlivened with pop culture references and memorable and “soul”-ful performances. The Nativity runs through December 31; don’t miss it while it’s here!

Monday, December 5, 2011

My First Christmas Carol

By Shanequa Beal, Fan and Belinda Cratchit in A Christmas Carol

Today we get a look inside the process of creating A Christmas Carol from one of its youngest cast members, Shanequa Beal.

This is my first time in A Christmas Carol and I love it! Actually, I just love the Goodman Theater! I was kind of nervous when I first walked in because I didn't know if I was going to get along with the adults and the rest of the young performers but they are all really nice. The adults help and comfort us when we really need it. I also really love working with the other young performers, surprisingly we all get along pretty well! I share a dressing room with Emma Gordon. In A Christmas Carol she plays Emily Cratchit and Want. Emma is an absolute sweetheart. We always have fun with each other. Emma is like a little sister that I always wanted.

A Christmas Carol was not a piece of cake. It required a lot of hours of work, memorizing and tons energy! At one point we worked a 50 hour week. Yes, I was really tired and missed school often but it was totally worth it. Honestly, my two favorite scenes are the Fezziwig scene and the last counting house scene. I feel the Fezziwig scene is when we let loose and enjoy ourselves the most. The last counting scene is so funny! Larry Yando is just awesome in general! I actually leave the dressing room early just so I can watch it!

It is an amazing experience to be in the show and I thank everyone, Steve Scott and the rest of the cast, for making me feel as comfortable as possible. If you haven't seen A Christmas Carol, I recommend you to come and see it. Just watch out for Jacob Marley :)

Shanequa Beal <3 :)

Photo: Emily Gordon (left) and Shanequa Beal (right) in rehearsal for A Christmas Carol. Photo by Eric Y. Exit.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Behind the Scenes of A Christmas Carol

Our annual production of A Christmas Carol has opened, officially, and is up and running in the Albert Theatre. Even though we’ve been working from the same script for several years (Tom Creamer’s adaptation), each production of A Christmas Carol is unique in its own way, and this year’s show is a particularly notable contrast from the last several seasons, as it marks the return of Steve Scott at the helm as director.

We spent several weeks in the rehearsal hall with the cast of A Christmas Carol as they worked hard to put together this extravagant production—which features ghosts, flying, choreographed dancing, and many actors slipping in and out of multiple roles—documenting their process. Check out our video, plus additional A Christmas Carol–related goodies, on the Goodman’s YouTube page.

Photo: Ebenezer Scrooge (Larry Yando) and the Ghost of Christmas Present (Penelope Walker) in
A Christmas Carol. Photo by Eric Y. Exit.