As the director of A Christmas Carol and the father of two kids, I often get asked what is the appropriate age to start bringing your kids to see the show. I don’t think there is one right answer to this question. I have seen many families with kids who are as young as four or five having a fabulous time. I’ve also seen kids older than that taking a break in the lobby. My own kids are very sensitive to scary stories. I waited until they were six and eight before I brought them. I think that was the right choice for our family. At the same time, I know that many kids are ready earlier than that.
In my mind, the Goodman production of A Christmas Carol is a family show. While directing it, I try to imagine the experience that young children will have. I also think about the many adults who attend the show without children. A Christmas Carol is a magical and accessible show to introduce your kids to the art of theater. However, it’s not children’s theater. There is so much about the show that your children will love: the sets and costumes are sumptuous; there’s live music and dancing; there are truly awe-inspiring special effects; there’s a great deal of humor. At the same time, it’s important to understand the show runs just over two hours and most of the language comes directly from Charles Dickens.
A Christmas Carol is a ghost story. The Goodman production embraces that fact. The ghost of Jacob Marley cares deeply about his friend Ebenezer Scrooge. He desperately wants to convince Scrooge to change everything about his life before it is too late. When he appears in Scrooge’s bedroom on Christmas Eve, Marley wants to make absolutely sure he gets Scrooge’s full attention. The scene is scary – both for Scrooge and for the audience. It helped my kids to know that Marley is a good friend who has come in order to help Scrooge. You might also consider showing your kids pictures of Marley from the Goodman website so they have a sense of what to expect.
It is worth knowing that the show is loud. For some kids, I think the sound effects can be more overwhelming than the content of the show. If your kids are sensitive to loud sounds you might consider bringing earplugs. The show also employs some strobe lights.
I hope these thoughts are helpful as you plan your trip to see A Christmas Carol. Thank you for making A Christmas Carol part of your family’s holiday tradition. I hope you all have a wonderful time at the show.