An Interview with Actor Larry Yando

In 2006, award-winning actor Larry Yando stepped into the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for the very first time. Little did he know that 13 years later, he’d still be delighting Goodman audiences with his take on one of the greatest grouches of all time. As the holiday season swings into high gear, Yando offers some thoughts on playing Dickens’ marvelous misanthrope and shares a bit of the man behind the character.

Did you have any model for playing Scrooge, any person or performer who you channeled to bring the character to life?

Courtesy of Larry Yando

LARRY: For some reason, I was very in the dark about A Christmas Carol. I had not seen it on stage. I think I probably saw a movie version. So I came at Scrooge as I would any other part that I hadn’t done before. I looked at what the guy was saying–what’s funny, dangerous and desperate about him–and I pull from my own life, because I suppose embedded somewhere in my psyche are connections to damaged individuals like Scrooge.

Have you ever gotten to the point where you thought you just couldn’t do the role again after all these years?

LARRY: First of all, the show itself works. It does what it is supposed to do, which is give people hope and bring some joy into their lives. And now, it feels more crucial than ever for people to see the play. Sometimes, I do have a bit of self-doubt and I think I can’t bring anything more to the role. But as soon as rehearsal starts, the depth of the story takes over and those fears are eliminated.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

LARRY: I’m one of those guys who’s got to sit quietly and not talk to anybody. I can’t be buzzing around the dressing rooms. I have to turn inside and become very self-contained to start this show. I go to the stage fairly early before the show starts and think about the world I am entering.

What’s the most un-actorly thing about you?

LARRY: I like to be alone after the show. I’m not a social butterfly. I’m not someone who goes to the lobby after the show looking for a response to my work. I’m uncomfortable in those situations. And when people head out to a bar afterwards, I don’t participate. I wish I could sometimes. But I decompress on my own, not through a group.

When it comes to holidays, are you a Scrooge or Bob Cratchit?

LARRY: I’m not a holiday person. I’m not someone who decorates. But I like giving people gifts. I love scented things and I go to Aroma Workshop on Halsted and make very specific scents for people.

What would be a good gift for you this year?

LARRY: Hmm. Twenty-four hours with a tech wizard to figure out my sound system. Or a deep tissue massage, because my body is falling apart from years of acting.

December 25 is your only day off during the holidays. What do you do?

LARRY: I go to my best friend’s house in Chicago—Bill Brown, who directed the first A Christmas Carol I was in. We have dinner and I see all the people I love. Then I come home and watch whatever marathon is on AMC and it feels so good to just chill out.

So, once A Christmas Carol is over, is it fun in the sun for Mr. Yando?

LARRY: I very rarely have the funds to do that, so what I have been doing for a while now is teach Shakespeare classes in January and February at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. That’s something I love to do. It’s exercising a different kind of muscle, in a way. I don’t have to perform. I just have to share. And at this point of my life, I feel I have a lot to share. I have insights and I have figured a lot of things out. And I feel I need to pass that on in some way. It’s probably the best gift I get for the holidays.

By Thomas Connors, a Chicago-based freelance writer and the Chicago Editor of Playbill.