A plum pudding role for Henry Lombardo

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By Michelle Dybal

Contributing Reporter

Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see. 

Bob Cratchit 

"A Christmas Carol"

Goodman Theatre's staged version of the classic Christmas novella is now in its 41st year. And this year, one Oak Park 9-year-old, Henry Lombardo, got his own Christmas miracle when he was cast in this season's show, playing a variety of young characters — including Tiny Tim during many week-night performances.

"I will be in over 50 shows before the end of the year," Henry said. "I work very hard to balance this with school."

The fourth-grader at Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary is new to professional theater but has experience on local stages. He acted with Oak Park's Ovation Academy in 101 Dalmatians, Winnie the Pooh and their Christmas Spectacular. He also appeared in Julian's CAST summer theater production of The Lion King – Savage Summer.

He has musical chops as well, singing in Oak Park's Pro Musica Youth Chorus for the past three years. Henry tap dances, plays piano and drums, and just started learning the trumpet at school.

"He's always been interested in all forms of music and would sing along to songs and learn them very quickly," said Allison Collins, Henry's mother. They look for outlets to channel his energy and joy through performing.

When auditions were announced for A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre, the family aimed for the long-running show tradition. 

His dream came true after auditioning with more than 150 children. At his first audition, he recited a Shel Silverstein poem, "Adventures of a Frisbee," and sang "Joy to the World." By the second call-back, Henry was asked to walk like Tiny Tim, something he had to improvise since he didn't know this would be asked of him. He said the audition process was "a little nerve-wracking, but it was exciting."

Henry has more than one chance to sing in the show — he solos as a boy on Scrooge's doorstep and sings as a caroler and also as Tiny Tim. He dances during the Fezziwig party and acts as a schoolboy.

Another important role he plays is Ignorance who appears alongside Want with the Ghost of Christmas Present.

"They are Man's," says the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!"

When Dickens wrote the book, published Dec. 19, 1843, he couldn't possibly have known the impact his tale of an old, miserly and greedy man turned grateful giver would have so many Christmases later.

"It feels like Dickens wrote this story for everyone," Henry said. "When I arrive at the theater before the show and I see everyone excited to see it, it makes it very special every single time. Everyone is happy and that's really nice to be around. And then when we're on stage and you can hear the laughter and the joy everyone is experiencing, that's very special too."

See "A Christmas Carol" through Sunday, Dec. 30, at the Albert, Goodman Theatre. Henry Lombardo plays Tiny Tim, Wednesday through Fridays, through Dec. 21, and Ignorance and other characters during all the shows. $35 and up. Tickets/more: goodmantheatre.org. 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.

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Taylor Patterson  

Posted: December 13th, 2018 2:58 PM

Juggling this kind of workload is immensely difficult for even the most seasoned adult performers ?" and they don't have homework! So, so impressed with Henry's hard work and dedication to this show. What an amazing young actor!!

Eric Storme Silvestri  

Posted: December 13th, 2018 2:40 PM

I had the pleasure of seeing Henry as Tiny Tim last Friday and it was such a treat! Excited to see what the future holds for this young man.

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