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A Christmas Carol

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Goodman Theatre. It's right that the show that ends Goodman Theatre's 75 years in its old home behind the Art Institute is a ghost story. Dickens's tale of redemption seems a fitting farewell, both prologue and epilogue: the Ghost of Dramas Past yields to the Ghost of Dramas Yet to Come. This 23rd staging is also the last to employ Joseph Nieminski's rolling set pieces. Next season a different and doubtless much more vertical production will take advantage of the new venue's vast fly space and superior acoustics.

Henry Godinez's staging underlines the universality of a parable that relies not on religiosity but on making us "fellow passengers to the grave" understand the miracle of life, which inspires the gratitude of giving. Knowing the outcome never spoils the fun of watching Scrooge and his four ghosts turn a breakdown into a breakthrough. Though Rick Snyder in the lead is neither as Grinch-like as William J. Norris nor as twinkling as Tom Mula, he balances the before and after well enough to create a convincing ex-misanthrope. From his first entrance, when he dramatically stops the carol singing, to his last, when he joins it, Snyder is as recognizable and direct as Dickens could desire.

The play's strengths are still John Kamys's seamless backdrop of carols, Ray Nardelli's often ferocious sound design, and Robert Christen's spectral lighting. The diverse cast deliver the story from all sides, and Robby O'Connor, the latest Tiny Tim, keeps it as youthful and fresh as ever.

--Lawrence Bommer

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