In normal years, Chicago theaters are packed with audiences seeking traditional holiday favorites. But in 2020, theaters are acknowledging that such entertainment will need to be offered in the home.
Manual Cinema, a Chicago company known for its fusion of film, music and live theater, said Thursday that it plans to create a new online production of “A Christmas Carol,” the Charles Dickens favorite that resides helpfully in the public domain. Slated to be streamed from Dec. 3-20, Manual Cinema’s premiere production will feature a fresh adaptation with hundreds of puppets of all styles and a live original score, played each night. An outer frame will re-imagine the show for an era when Zoom calls are more likely than strolls to the butchers to acquire a goose.
The stream will be delivered by Marquee.tv, an online content provider focusing on the performing arts.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Goodman Theatre confirmed Thursday that the downtown theater will not be presenting its annual live production downtown for the first time in 43 years. Instead, the theater said, it is planning to present the show, which typically stars Larry Yando as Scrooge, in an “alternate form” that can be enjoyed at home. Details, the Goodman said, have yet to be worked out.
And American Blues Theater, which typically stages “It’s a Wonderful Life Live in Chicago!” on Chicago’s North Side also says it is going virtual for 2020. The long-running production, which typically mimics being inside the studio of an old-time radio station, this year will be presented “live from the actors’ homes,” complete with sets and costumes and the traditional live Foley sound effects.
According to the theater, the ticketed production will be “live every night” on the Zoom platform during the four-show-a-week run of Nov. 2 through Jan 2. The theater promises a full re-creation of their traditional experience, with the exception of the parting offering of free milk and cookies, which audiences will have to bake and pour for themselves this year.
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