Tiny Tim role a big thrill for local boy
Matthew Abraham, 7, of Skokie plays Tiny Tim and Ron Rains is his stage father, Bob Cratchit, in Goodman Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol."
‘A Christmas Carol’
Nov. 17-Dec. 29
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
(312) 443-3800; www.goodmantheatre.org
Updated: November 19, 2012 9:06PM
Tiny Tim doesn’t have much to say in “A Christmas Carol, “ but the plucky little Cratchit kid, who — spoiler alert “does not die,” — is central to Dickens’ drama.
In fact, with the exception of Scrooge himself, Tiny Tim is probably the most recognizable person in the story, soaring past the three Christmas ghosts and way above his beloved father, Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s brow-beaten clerk.
So seven-year-old Matthew Abraham of Skokie was more than pleased when his mother Charlene met his school bus this fall and told him “You’ve got the part of Tiny Tim!”
“I said ‘Mom, why are you crying?’” said Matthew during an interview at the Goodman Theatre after a Wednesday afternoon rehearsal.
“I told him those were tears of joy,” Charlene replied.
Matthew had used the Shel Silverstein poem “Sister for Sale” as part of his Goodman audition. “Everyone laughed,” he said, with obvious pleasure.
The dark-haired lad is no stranger to the stage. Last February he played the changeling child in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“After that he told me he wished he could do more, he wanted to be in plays all the time,” said Charlene. “But, of course, he goes to school.”
Matthew’s second grade classmates at John Middleton Elementary School in Skokie know all about his budding career.
“The kids know Matthew as an actor from his previous experiences in commercials and plays,” said his teacher Shelley Nizynski.
“When Matthew found out he was chosen to play the role of Tiny Tim, he eagerly shared the news with our class during Monday Meeting,” she added, noting that many of the children are hoping to see him in the show.
She and Matthew send e-mails back and forth. “I love hearing updates about how his practices are going,” she declared. “I share these emails with the class….we all are enjoying learning about his adventures acting.”
Like his classmates, Nizynski is excited to see him on stage. “I am taking my parents to one of his shows and my husband’s family to another,” she revealed.
“I am so proud of him! He is such a dynamic, playful, talented kid. I love being his teacher.”
According to Charlene, the school principal and the superintendent of School District 73.5 plan to come to a performance as well.
The play opens in previews on Nov. 17, so banners for the show are up on North Dearborn in the city’s theater district. “We were going to a rehearsal and when we came out of the parking garage I saw the banner with a picture of Larry Yando,” Charlene said, referring to the actor who is playing Scrooge for his fifth year.
“Then I saw a banner,” said Matthew, “and I yelled ‘Mom, it’s me.’”
“Family members who work downtown started calling me and saying ‘We saw Matthew,’” his mother added, with a smile.
The children in the Goodman production of the Christmas classic have been in rehearsal since Oct. 23. Tuesday through Friday the hours are 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with additional rehearsals on Saturdays and Sundays.
Charlene drives her son down each day. “Fortunately, my husband and I are self-employed,” she said, “so I am able to take the time to drive here and take him home. He does his homework in the car and every Tuesday all of us mothers go out for coffee. We’re enjoying it very much.”
“A Christmas Carol” is nothing if not a beautifully crafted morality play. So Matthew was asked why people should come and see the holiday drama.
“It’s a wonderful story and they can hear our British accents.” he answered initially. When prodded further he replied, that the show tells us “we shouldn’t be grumpy and mad all the time like Scrooge. All he wanted was money.”
Matthew was exceptionally well spoken, explaining how eager he is to rehearse in costume and mentioning his Tae Kwan Do class, which he attends on Monday afternoons and the friends he has made there.
“This has been a great honor for us,” said Charlene. “It is an extension of our world and it is the best Christmas present ever.”
So even though the talkative lad is mainly silent during the show, he does say “God bless us, every one!” the most memorable line in the whole production.