From Bah Humbug to Beautiful: An Accessible Christmas Carol

From Bah Humbug to Beautiful: An Accessible Christmas Carol

Beth, quick question for you. Do you have any interest in possibly going to see A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theater?

Here in Chicago, some families go to the Goodman to see A Christmas Carol every year. How pedestrian! Truth be told, I kind of sort of rolled my eyes at Anita’s suggestion. Bah humbug! I’d seen A Christmas Carol done at community theater in the past, and I like watching it on TV during the holidays, but I had never ever wanted to join the throngs of everyday people who go to see it at a theater and thought it best I keep it that way.

But then came the back-and-forth texts. Anita’s girlfriend Kelly would be coming as well. They had chosen a date that offered a pre-show audio tour for blind people.

I became blind before she was born, and she and her mom lived in the same town we did when we were raising our son Gus, who was born with physical and developmental disabilities and uses a wheelchair

Anita grew up around disability. Her father is from Jamaica, her mother is white, and she’s all about diversity and inclusion!

And then there’s this: Anita and Kelly are a fun couple, so smart and witty that we share a lot of laughs whenever we’re together. And, okay, it was pretty flattering to think they’d go out of their way to spend an afternoon at the theater with their old blind great aunt Beth. I said yes. And am I glad I did!

Tickets for A Christmas Carol are usually quite expensive, but in its efforts to be “a theater for all” and a “place where diverse audiences experience extraordinary productions,” Goodman offers reduced-price tickets to people who attend the touch tours. Anita and Kelly were accompanying their blind old great-aunt Beth, so they got the same discount I did.

Seeing Eye dog Luna guided me from home to the theater to meet Anita and Kelly last Saturday, I showed my proof-of-double-vaccination card with pride, and handed over my ticket. “Box seats!” The ticket-taker sounded impressed.

When Goodman’s‘ house manager/accessibility coordinator Andy Wilson greeted me in the lobby, he explained they save those box seats for people who might find accessing regular theater seats difficult. “Your box is on the main floor,” he explained. “No stairs!” Bonus: Box seats are great for social distancing, and Black Lab Luna could sprawl during the show without bothering anyone else.

No more bah humbugs!

Andy directed Luna and me to our starting point in the lobby, where they had three of the understudies‘ costumes available for me to touch (the ones the actors would be wearing were not available for obvious reasons). I appreciated having the costumes displayed on dressmaker dummies – that way I could feel the fabrics with structure and imagine how they might look – and fit. A costumer from the show was on hand to give me the back story on each piece. My favorite? https://www.1stamericanloan.com/pawn-shops-ne A top and hoop skirt worn by the Ghost of Christmas Present. I was encouraged to touch the fabric, the stitching, the piping, the braids, the brocades, the hoops, everything.

Anita and Kelly showed up in time to enjoy some of the costumes, and from there the two of them escorted me into the theater to meet some of the main actors in the play for the pre-show. One of them was the one playing the Ghost of Christmas Present – the one who’d be wearing the hoop skirt. “I’m supposed to look like a Christmas tree,” she laughed, then went on to explain the real reason behind the hoop skirt. “It hides the harness I have to wear.”