In honor of our 40th Anniversary, meet some of the artists, production team and staff members that help bring Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition to the stage photographed by celebrated photographer Frank Ishman.
Alden Vasquez"I’ve been with the Goodman on and off for almost 30 years. This is my 27th year on A Christmas Carol. I’m proud we’ve lasted 40 years and we get to do this every year. We get to educate and entertain people, and allow families to make it a tradition for themselves."
Alice Maguire“This is my 30th A Christmas Carol and to me, it’s like an old friend. My favorite prop in A Christmas Carol is the old plum pudding. It was a big, round, Styrofoam ball, painted with white drips of icing and a sprig of holly and it looked exactly like the Who pudding. The first time I opened the box, I was like, 'it’s the Who pudding!' I LOVED that prop! Such a whimsical, silly prop.”
Anna Gelman"Last year was my first year as an employee and my first A Christmas Carol. I run Stage Chemistry, our Education program about the science, engineering and math...and this year we’re examining actors in flight, and the simple machines that let us do amazing things on stage."
Ariana and Elise Burks"I was one of the younger sisters last time, so it’s really cool to be the oldest sister now!"
Chris Kolz"This is pretty special...very few people see what’s in here, because it’s a dark interior. There used to be a chandelier that sort of lit up the inside, but they wanted a dark and mysterious thing that you don’t really see. So this was probably the biggest project that I worked on for A Christmas Carol."
Chris Smith"One of my favorite performances every year is for groups of grade school students; Marley scares them to death, and they love it!"
Elizabeth Rice"A lot of the kids assume theater is boring, but in this show, people are flying, gates suddenly come down from above, and things pop out of the floor."
Erica Sartini-Combs and Rachael Jimenez"The youth performer open call brings in kids from all over Chicagoland. It’s an awesome time for us to engage with the community in a unique way."
Erik Schnitger & Summer Snow"The staff works really hard to make sure that if you're here in the theater, you're going to have a good experience."
Erin Tartaglia"It’s fun to send out casting offers and let the artists know that they’re going to be in the play. I get to be the bearer of great news!"
Greg Hirte & Malcolm Ruhl"Music is a universal language. It strikes home, no matter who you are."
Heidi Sue McMath"Audiences should recognize that this took place long ago, but still respond like it’s happening today."
Jeff Harris"We got a call from an audience member who was concerned that we had harmed real geese, but it was just foam, rope and some fake feathers. A little too real for some, but I wore that as a badge of honor."
Joe Foust"I’m not trying to scare Scrooge; I’m trying to save him."
Jonathan Nook"Kids gasp and laugh really loudly at the jokes. It’s just a different vibe; I love coming back."
Kareem Bandealy"There’s still time to live, as they say these days, your best life."
Kei and Michael Rawlins"I’m excited for…when we get to the stage! To be in the costumes, to do my first performance."
Kelly Rickert"Within a couple of months after the show closes, we start thinking about next year. So I’m kind of thinking about the next campaign in the back of my head all the time."
Kim Furganson"I wish you could hear (our patrons) when they start to call me—some as early as January!—to book their seats for next year’s production."
Larry Yando"There hasn't been one production in my 10 years where, at the beginning of rehearsals, we didn't have a discussion about what is going on with the world, and how the show can reflect current events."
Lisa Gaye Dixon"The story is ever relevant, ever enlightening—one can see something new and different each year, in both the physical production, but also in what is emphasized each year about human nature, empathy, and connection."
Luke Lemanski"It’s live theater—anything can happen, and it does!"
Maggie & Mary Beth Chong"This is a very big opportunity. I’m a little bit too serious right now!"
Marissa Ford and Mel Yonzon"For me the most exciting thing about offering a sensory-friendly performance is just that theater is about connecting communities and reaching everybody and everyone getting a chance to appreciate, enjoy and experience art. That is what the Goodman is all about and that is what A Christmas Carol is really about."
Miguel Melecio"The atmosphere definitely changes in the office. Everyone’s more energized."
Molly Brennan and Malic White"Charles Dickens was ahead of his time in terms of the way that he saw social and cultural inequality; his empathy for multiple types of people."
Paris Strickland"I am confident about being the first girl Tiny Tim. I am excited to show other people that girls can do anything!"
Penelope Walker"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 has became my party! This became the celebration, this became family."
Rick Glass"It’s like a good song. Everybody comes in and kind of does a cover of it, but they bring their own energy."
Robert Falls"During my time as Artistic Director, I’ve married and had three children, all of whom can’t imagine Christmas without A Christmas Carol. We come every year, and they’re like my very own focus group."
Roche Schulfer"People always ask me 'what is your favorite production in 40 years at the Goodman?' and how can I not say A Christmas Carol? To be able to go from presenting a play to being a custodian of the Chicago holiday tradition—it’s an honor and a privilege. It’s something we take more seriously than people can possibly imagine."
Ron E. Rains"There’s a wonderful family that has come every year since I’ve been in the show, the Berger family, and they’ve kind of adopted me and my family. The last few years I’ve attended Christmas Eve dinner at their house."
Sadieh Rifai"I’m playing Belle, and I’m really excited to be back! For a very awkward, frumpy, unpopular, mustached-ridden girl—an Arab, Muslim, from a small town—it’s been kind of a dream to be at one of the biggest theaters in the nation doing a very classic story with people who I love. "
Susan Lemerand"About seven years ago, as a project with my kids, I started to make found object robots. We did some and I really enjoyed making them. One day I was talking with a friend and was like, I should make some A Christmas Carol ones because the characters are so iconic and they're something I could easily translate into this version of sculpture."
Vikki Rodriguez"It’s the first show I saw at the Goodman during what was my first holiday away from my family. The show was warm, fuzzy and magical and made me feel a little less homesick."
Willa J. Taylor"The casting, with an eye toward inclusion, is really important to the Goodman. It’s amazing when students see people who look like them on stage."