Two photos of Larry Yando as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. On the left, he is wearing a frock coat, looking glum and tucking a wrapped present into his coat. On the right, he is sitting holding a plaid scarf up over his head with an expression of wonder on his face.
Before and after the ghosts: Larry Yando returns for his 16th outing as Scrooge in the Goodman's A Christmas Carol Credit: Liz Lauren

A piercing wind from the north whipped down darkened Dearborn Street, turning noses and fingers to icy lumps and testing the resolve of pedestrians on the opening night of Goodman Theatre’s 46th annual production of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol last weekend.  

As if current events weren’t already enough to chill the holiday spirit! Dreadful, bloody images of terrorism and war have risen like the undead to remind us, safe as we might be in our cozy enclaves, that all is not well in the world.

Inside the theater, there was light and warmth. A handsome tree was lit, a chorus sang, libations were sold and downed, and that venerable gentleman, Larry Yando, scripted by the brilliant Mr. Dickens and aided by a diverse cast of able performers and adorable youngsters, worked his magic with the character of Scrooge.

It is his show, no doubt whatever about that. In his 16th year of bringing the stingy old misanthrope to life, Yando is an absolute master of every word and nuance. He scowls, growls, glares, flaps his arms when he should be soaring, and drops his jaw nearly to his kneecaps, mining every delicious, deadpan nugget of Dickensian humor—all to the audience’s sustained delight. Right up to the message that applies as much to us today as it did to Scrooge: To escape the imminent and terrible future we have glimpsed, there must be change. Profound change. The time before us is our own to make it happen.

A Christmas Carol, through 12/31, 170 N. Dearborn, 312-443-3800,, $30-$159

On a night like that, you’d freeze your buds off at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape. But given a milder evening, and willingness to fork over the $34-per-person nonmember advance-purchase adult entrance fee ($30 for members; $17-$19 for kids), you can check out this iteration of a newer holiday tradition. More glitz than green, it offers a 1.3-mile trail of photo ops that’ll strike you as even more spectacular if this is your virgin visit, or if you grab one of the $10 cups of mulled wine. The towering winter cathedral is back, along with a fire garden, a gala entrance arch, a new “Sea of Light,” a glowing pyramid, and much more, including a soundscape of music short on seasonality and awe. Daytime visitors are getting booted at 3 PM during this event, which runs from 4:30 to 11 PM most nights through January 7; nonmembers will be charged $25 for parking, $15 if purchased in advance. 

Lightscape through 1/7/24, Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, 847-835-6801,
Also: Lincoln Park’s ZooLights, through 1/7/24, 2001 N. Clark,,  free on Mondays, $7 weekdays, $10 weekends.

In 2019, Elijah McClain, a self-taught 23-year-old violinist, was stopped by police on his way home from a convenience store in Aurora, Colorado, for “looking suspicious.” He was put into a choke hold twice, injected with ketamine, and suffered a cardiac arrest from which he never recovered. His death spurred police reform in Colorado and inspired composer Dave Ragland’s brief, mournful, and haunting chamber piece, “Eight Tones for Elijah.” It’s on the program for CSO’s MusicNOW season opener, Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7. Curated by CSO composer in residence Jessie Montgomery, the concert will feature work by a collective of Black composers, including Montgomery, who came together during the pandemic. Performers include Montgomery and collective members Jasmine Barnes, Carlos Simon, and Damien Geter, as well as tenor Russell Thomas and musicians from the CSO, conducted by Donald Lee III. There’s a preconcert panel discussion at 3 PM and an afterparty at 6 PM.  

Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7, Sun 12/3 4:30 PM, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000,, $30-$50.

For the humbugs among us, Chicago Opera Theater is offering the Chicago debut of Dmitri Shostakovich’s cynical and satiric 1928 clown car of an opera, The Nose. Based on Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 short story with the same title, it’s the tale of a minor Russian official who wakes up one day to find that his proboscis has left its place on his face and is making its own surprisingly successful way in Saint Petersburg, having already achieved a higher rank than his own. His efforts to retrieve it and coax it back into place lead to multiple mind-blowing encounters with ineptitude, corruption, and chaos. Francesca Zambello directs this production, which features baritone Aleksey Bogdanov as the official and tenor Curtis Bannister as the nose. Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts the raucous, iconoclastic  score. Scrooge, I think, would have loved it. 

The Nose, Fri 12/8 7:30 PM, Sun 12/10 3 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-704-8414,, $45-$150.