In a holiday season split between almost desperate commercialism and economic uncertainty, I’m grateful for this year’s less slick and more expressive edition of Goodman Theatre’s annual A Christmas Carol. Under Chuck Smith’s direction, the production has a few rough edges but offers a version of the tale more clearly told and deeply felt than in the past. This multiracial production, which honors the 150th anniversary of Dickens’s novel, is anchored by Tom Mula’s brilliant, ever-evolving Scrooge–a man with a Charles Addams-like sense of malevolent mischief who is able to be charitable toward others only after he develops some compassion for himself. Effective support comes from, among others, William J. Norris’s ghastly-green Marley’s Ghost; Mary Ernster and Ernest Perry Jr.’s radiant and robust Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present; and Terence Gallagher as young Scrooge, a memorable miser-in-the-making. Boldly embracing the horrific and humorous extremes of the story, Smith’s production stakes out a movingly personal middle ground that encourages us not to revere a classic but to experience a fresh and relevant new narrative. Goodman Theatre, 200 S. Columbus, 443-3800. Through January 2: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays-Sundays, 2:30 and 8 PM; Sunday, January 2, 2:30 PM only; additional matinee Tuesday, December 21, Wednesday, December 22 and 29, and Thursday, December 23 and 30, 2 PM; no show Thursday, December 23, Friday, December 24 and 31, or Saturday, December 25 and January 1. $26-$32.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Liz Lauren.