For TCW’s December issue, you’ll see our Man of the Month is Ebenezer Scrooge. We wanted to be festive and have fun, but we of course don’t want to discount the man behind the Goodman Theatre’s iconic stage character.
Actor Larry Yando, from Poughkeepsie, New York, has played Scrooge since 2007. He went to school at SUNY New Paltz, then came to Chicago and earned an MFA from DePaul Theatre School. “I thought I’d go back to New York, but got really lucky and did a bunch of shows right out of school,” he says, noting, “21 years later, I’m still in Chicago! It’s a happy accident.”
A dancer growing up. Mr. Yando’s kindergarten teacher kept sending home report cards to his mother saying, “He sings and dances all around the classroom, I think you should give him lessons.” By the fourth time, “my mother – who was a factory worker from a family of 12 brothers – said yes.” he recalls. “After some time, I realized I didn’t want to be a dancer but I wanted to act, so I shifted gears. I started performing when I was really young, but started acting when I was about 18.”
Mr. Yando says the best part about his job is that he can communicate to others by telling a story that’s magical and delightful. “I feel like I can expose some aspect of humanity to others,” he explains. “With Scrooge, I can take people on a journey that everyone can relate to on some level. Everyone can relate to the Scrooge at the beginning of A Christmas Carol – the pain and the solitude that he starts out with – and by the end, rejoicing with him because he’s found the spirit of the holidays again.”
When asked about staying in Chicago (over New York or Los Angeles) for theater, Mr. Yando says, “What got me here was luck – with my first jobs, I just got lucky, which is so much a part of this business. I landed really great roles that gave me high exposure early on right out of DePaul. What keeps me here is the support and atmosphere of artistic abandon that you have to not be pigeonholed into any one category. I’ve gotten to do musicals, Shakespeare, intense dramas and contemporary plays. I know there’s not another city like it. Every time I teach I tell every student to go to L.A. and New York, because they have all their strengths. But in order to build up a strong craft and a resume, you’re not going to find another city with the acting opportunities than Chicago.”
Having done Shakespeare, Mr. Yando knows that men used to play women back in the day. In today’s world, the actor knows there are ‘meatier’ roles for women. One reason why: “There are more women playwrights, baring their souls and giving them great material to work with,” he shares. “Of the hundreds of dynamic actresses that exist, there are more opportunities for them because there are more roles being written for them. That wasn’t the case before, when all the major playwrights were men. In my opinion, the really exciting current playwrights are women. My favorite and best acting teachers were women, so I was always aware of women’s voices trying to emerge and now I’m seeing these voices blossom.”