Actor Larry Yando, in his guise as Ebenezer Scrooge, seems right at home in the opening moments of Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," when his character comes eye to eye with an imposing ornamental door-knocker shaped like a lion's head.
Previously in his stage career, Yando's masterful talents served him playing both Scar, the Broadway bad guy lion from Disney's staging of "The Lion King" and then last summer's romp at the Goodman as Shere Khan, the scheming tiger in the new Broadway-bound production of "The Jungle Book."
He's also not a stranger to Scrooge's penny-pinching ways, since this season marks his sixth time in the lead role of this tale of the true-meaning of the holiday spirit of giving.
This is the 36th annual production of Goodman's run of "A Christmas Carol." This year, it is directed by Henry Wishcamper with all-new on stage magic, set elements, special effects and loads of surprises.
For 2013, Ebenezer has been given a new dreary bedroom, complete with a different design of fireplace and four-poster canopy bed.
As for the cast of 27, this year, it includes 14 new and 13 returning cast members, led by Yando as Scrooge and 8-year-old Matthew Abraham as Tiny Tim for his second year.
"A Christmas Carol" runs through Dec. 28 in the Goodman's Albert Theatre.
Whether you've seen it only once before or dozens of return annual visits, this year is an extra special chance to see a brilliant blend of old and new favorite moments that leave audiences beaming by the end of the 2 hour and 15 minute, one-intermission journey to Christmas Past, Present and Future.
Also back once again to join Yando for the holiday journey is floating Elizabeth Ledo as Ghost of Christmas Past and Ron Rains as Bob Cratchit, along with perfect Joe Foust as the bellowing Ghost of Jacob Marley and Michael Lindner as Mr. Fezziwig. Actress Kim Schultz also provides some wonderful, fun moments as Mrs. Fezziwig and other assorted roles.
After Penelope Walker's recent years as the Ghost of Christmas Present, she takes a turn as Mrs. Cratchit this year and turns over her ghostly duties to the wonderful, imposing man tower that is actor A.C. Smith.
Scenic Designer Todd Rosenthal's set is alone the worth of this ticket price. He has hidden tricks everywhere possible this year, from the scary lion door-knocker to the spooky space that is Scrooge's bedroom. (Note: At Sunday's press performance, the clock in the bedroom didn't get moved ahead to 2 a.m. for the start of Act 2 and the arrival of the Ghost of Christmas Present.)
Tickets are $25 to $83 at GoodmanTheatre.org/Joy or (312) 443-3800.