PenelopePENELOPE WALKER
Crumb/Mrs. Fezziwig

This is my 13th season. I remember my first season, everyone said, “Oh, you’re going to love it, it’s so fun!” I was a little resistant to that, because I didn’t know any of them, but they were so right. And it was exciting to have something to do during the holidays. I was born on Christmas Eve, and growing up I was never with my friends during that time because we were out of school. But this became my party! This became the celebration, this became family.

I’ve worked with five different directors during my time in the show, and each approached this play as if it were new—as if it was the first time. And that is so important. As an actor, you’re always trying to find different ways to approach the work. It’s just so heartening to have people who are as invested as I want to be all the time.


Having the cast together downstairs at the Goodman dressing rooms is really special. We do a lot of performances and it can be a bit of a grueling schedule, so the camaraderie is really important. It’s like we’re family, and we’ve all been wonderful about celebrating birthdays!


One year I was playing the Ghost of Christmas Present, and during a backstage tour someone walked up to me and said, “I don’t know what it is about the Ghost of Christmas Present this year, but it touched me in a way that was unexpected.” Their compliment reminded me of the story of redemption and having a new opportunity every day to change our lives or change someone else’s heart, without realizing it. Not because I did some magic, just because they were open to it.

I’m sure we can see ourselves in these characters. People who come to  the show recognize these folks: they know curmudgeons, people who are resistant. They know somebody who’s really sweet and kind. I’m speaking of Fred, putting certain things aside, as far as his uncle is concerned, and every year still coming to him saying, “Come join us.” It’s so rewarding to see people change their minds, and to get it all in one night, all in one sitting. To come knowing the person from the beginning and how they change at the end, it’s like, “That can happen to me.”