The day Alden Vasquez decided "I couldn’t act" turned out to be a good day for The Goodman Theatre and its annual performance of "A Christmas Carol." The 51-year-old Chicagoan has been the stage manager for the production for 15 years.
Is there something special about "A Christmas Carol" that keeps you going?
"We all kind of have a goal in our minds and we put on the show to tell a story about the good of Christmas and how people can be changed through the story. … It’s a good holiday story to tell. I think it’s important that we tell it. That’s kind of corny, but that’s how I feel about it."
Christmas holds special meaning for Vasquez, who grew up with four siblings. "The best part is being with family and reflecting on the year. It’s a chance for me to give back for the good that I have gotten."
How many kids do you have to keep track of?
Five. "We try to treat the kids as professionals, but on the other hand, I also understand that they are children, too. Sometimes I feel like I become a parent during the weeks that I’m with Christmas Carol." If they act up, "I do timeouts and they have to go sit and be quiet. Or if Tiny Tim gets a little out of hand, he will come and sit next to me until he calms down," he says. "I’ve learned a lot about timeouts."
What’s it like working with the kids?
"Because of our schedule, we all live together in that theater for four or five weeks. You get attached to them," he says. "I love working with kids. I love watching them get excited." Vasquez, who teaches at DePaul University, says he especially likes teaching kids. "I feel like it’s my job to pass along the torch of theater."
What’s your favorite kid story about doing the show?
"Tiny Tim threw up on stage once during the Cratchit dinner and because our crew was so busy, everyone looked at me. That’s one of my favorite stories, running back there and having this poor kid in tears and trying to calm him down and clean him up at the same time."
That story gets retold every year.