Goodman Theatre’s ‘Christmas Carol’ audio play review: a heartfelt gift to all

This is Larry Yando’s 13th year as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Goodman’s “A Christmas Carol” — he’s been at it nearly twice as long as Jacob Marley’s been dead (as a doornail) when Charles Dickens’ Christmas ghost story begins.

If you’ve seen Yando’s Scrooge, you know that he and the rest of the Goodman’s repeat cast members and designers have set a high bar for themselves with past productions. It’s unfair to compare director Jessica Thebus’ audio play version this year with the “Christmas Carols” of Christmas past. But it’s difficult not to. What’s lost this year, along with the opulent visuals, is the grand sense of scale created by a sprawling ensemble bustling about (and sometimes literally flying over) London.

That’s a comparatively small price for what the audio play gains, arriving as it does in the context of a pandemic that has decimated the economy and thrown millions out of work, live theater artists among those hit the hardest. The food insecurity and dire health-care straits of Tiny Tim (Vikram Konkimalla ) hit with acuteness in 2020. So does the call to connect with fellow humans, lest ye be doomed like poor Jacob Marley (Kareem Bandealy).

Like its live stage predecessors, audio “Christmas Carol” is rich with compelling drama and well-drawn characters. There are real stakes, memorable performances and glorious music. Before it ends, you will feel you are curled up with a plate of gingerbread before a roaring fireplace and a pile of presents even if none of that is remotely in the cards this season.

Tom Creamer’s stage adaptation has been adapted for audio by Neena Arndt, Thebus and sound designer Richard Woodbury. They’ve beefed up the exposition, giving the Narrator (Andrew White) a lot of the heavy lifting. White is fabulous with the adjectives, even when the script itself lays them on thick. The visuals he creates are vivid.

Sound is obviously in the spotlight, so to speak. Not to worry. Woodbury, composer Andrew Hansen and music director Malcolm Ruhl are, as the dialogue describes the house-band at the Fezziwig office party: “people who know their business.”

Larry Yando records the role of Scrooge for the Goodman Theatre’s audio play of “A Christmas Carol.”

Larry Yando records the role of Scrooge for the Goodman Theatre’s audio play of “A Christmas Carol.”
Frank Ishman

The music paints pictures: A Copland-esque surge of elation crescendos as Scrooge takes flight with the Ghost of Christmas Past (Aurora Real de Asua, delivering a childlike spirit luminous with ancient wisdom). A rollicking jig provides a glitter bomb of merriment at the Fezziwig’s (Penelope Walker, Cindy Gold) party. The soprano of the lone child (Asher Alcantara) singing carols in the dark is as piercing as an icicle. The wailing wraiths closing out Jacob Marley’s visitation are haunting. And make sure to listen for the “Noel” carol sung at the “Christmas Present” party hosted by Scrooge’s niece Frida (Dee Dee Batteast). It’s as gorgeous as the first snowfall.


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These are the headphones, speakers and audio gadgets to gift this season

Buy WH-1000XM4 at Amazon – $278 Buy WH-1000XM4 at Amazon – $278

Sony WH-CH710N

Holiday Gift Guide: Sony WH-CH710N

Will Lipman Photography / Sony

While Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are definitely the best headphones you can buy right now, the company’s WH-CH710N offers the most bang for your buck. This more affordable model debuted in April for $200, but we’ve already seen it on sale for much less — sometimes as low as $98. The CH710N offers respectable sound quality and capable ANC. Neither feature is as good as what you’ll get on the 1000XM4, but at this price they’re hard to beat. What’s more, these headphones are also lightweight and comfy, so if the person on your list needs to wear them for hours at a time, they won’t become a burden. 

Buy WH-CH710N at Amazon – $88 Buy WH-CH710N at Walmart – $88

Jabra Elite 85t

Holiday Gift Guide: Jabra Elite 85t

Will Lipman Photography / Jabra

Jabra’s true wireless earbuds have impressed us since the Elite 65t debuted in 2018. The company followed up with the excellent the Elite 75t, but the buds still lacked a key feature: active noise cancellation. Now Jabra has the Elite 85t, its first true wireless model with ANC on board. While the company added noise cancellation to the Elite 75t via a software update, the Elite 85t has a dedicated chip which allows you to customize the levels of both ANC and ambient sound independently. The company was able to retain much of the Elite 75t’s design, with the buds themselves being only slightly larger. Jabra also added wireless charging, making these full-featured earbuds for the person on your list who could use an audio upgrade.

Buy Elite 85t at Best Buy – $230

Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2

Holiday Gift Guide: Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot

Will Lipman Photography

You may want to give wireless earbuds as a gift, but you might not want to commit $200 or more to the cause. If that’s the case, Anker’s Soundcore line offers some great options for under $100. One of our favorites is the Spirit Dot 2, a set of tiny true wireless earbuds packed full of features and impressive bassy thump. The small size makes these extremely comfortable. They’re also IPX7 rated waterproof, so whoever you’re giving these to is well-equipped for New Year’s resolutions on the trail or at the (home) gym. 

Buy Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 at Amazon – $64 Buy Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 at Walmart – $64

Sonos Arc

Holiday Gift Guide: Sonos Arc


Sonos debuted a lot of great-sounding WiFi-connected speakers over the years, including Playbar and Beam that are both designed for the living room. With the former being well overdue for an update, and the latter meant to be more of a budget option, the company didn’t have a powerhouse model equipped with Dolby Atmos. That changed with the Arc, a $799 soundbar that offers immersive audio and automatically adjusts to both content and additional speakers when you expand your setup. The downside, of course, is the price. And the cost of adding on even a Sonos Sub gets

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Excellent Audio, ANC & Battery Life

The Huawei FreeBuds 3 earbuds were an excellent offering by the company. Those earbuds launched last year, and are still quite compelling, if you like open-ear earbuds. If you’re more of a closed-ear type of person, and you like that silicone seal, chances are you’ll like these ones better. I’m talking about the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, the company’s new earbuds that we’re here to talk about, in this review article

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with these earbuds in the last couple of weeks, and there’s plenty to say here. I’m no longer surprised by quality audio earphones from Huawei, but these earbuds still managed to up the ante. Now, truth be told, I’m more inclined to use open-ear earbuds, and the FreeBuds 3 fit me perfectly, but generally speaking, the FreeBuds Pro are probably better for the vast majority of people.

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro offer a different experience compared to the FreeBuds 3, completely. Not only because they’re a different type of TWS earbuds, but because their case is different, and so is the sound coming from them. That being said, let’s kick this off, shall we.

Shiny plastic could have been avoided, but the build is solid

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro are made out of plastic. That goes for both the earbuds themselves, and their charging case. Huawei used the very same plastic it used or the FreeBuds 3, the look and feel is exactly the same. This is shiny plastic, and it actually looks okay in black (officially called Carbon Black). Do note that it is a fingerprint magnet, even though the plastic is so black, chances are it won’t matter to most people. The Silver Frost (even though they look more like dark gray) and Ceramic White should hide those fingerprints even better, though I haven’t had a chance to use those.

AH Huawei FreeBuds Pro image 129

The charging case is heavier than the one holding the FreeBuds 3

Let’s talk more about the charging case first. It does resemble the one that comes with FreeBuds 3, but it’s completely different in terms of general shape. It has an oval shape, compared to the round one from the FreeBuds 3. This is a matter of personal preference, to be quite honest. I personally prefer the case from the FreeBuds 3, as it’s not only round, but it’s thinner, and lighter as well. Speaking of which, the charging case weighs around 60 grams, while each earbud is 6.1 grams. Altogether that results in about 72 grams. That’s not heavy at all, but it’s heavier than the FreeBuds 3, that’s for sure. I was able to tell straight away, and after I looked it up, it turns out that’s true. The FreeBuds 3 case weighs 48 grams, and each earbud 4.5 grams.

The difference is not that big, though, so… chances are that won’t mind. At the very bottom of the case, there is a Type-C charging port. Huawei’s logo is placed on the front, and this case

Taking the

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Google’s New Nest Audio Is the Best Smart Accessory For Your Home | Travel + Leisure

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Since moving back to New York City after months of quarantine elsewhere, I’ve become a professional nester. It’s never felt as important as it does now to have a comfortable, easy space to live in because living at home also means working, working out, dining, dancing, and everything else at home.

And when it comes to streamlining my life at home, the Google Nest Audio takes the cake. First, the Nest Audio speakers are 75 percent louder than the original Google Home speaker with an additional 50 percent stronger bass. This means that my nightly post-work Kin Euphorics-fueled solo dance parties are a full 125 percent better than they were before (no, my math probably doesn’t check out, but the sentiment runs deep). After months of repeated quarantines, few things have remained as important as family, food, security, and dance parties.

Part of nesting for me has also been decorating with furniture, art, and items that I find beautiful and make me happy. Which is why upon unboxing my Nest Audio in the color Sage, I was struck by its modern, robust, and inviting appearance. It stands out among other tech products out there: its curved frame is “inspired by a pillow and its fabric by home textiles.” It’s clearly designed to fit seamlessly into your artistically and mindfully curated home.

Additionally, “Nest Audio has a dedicated machine learning chip which makes the speed of Google Assistant’s answers and actions even faster,” something I noticed immediately upon setup. Responses are natural, extremely quick, and crystal clear. And while it’s possible to have your Google Nest’s microphone on in case you’re as forgetful as I can be and want to be reminded of something that was said earlier, it’s easily switched off to ensure your privacy in your home when you’re not using the feature.

Available in five colors — Chalk, Charcoal, Sand, Sky, and Sage — the Google Nest Audio comes in a hue that suits any home’s aesthetic. And since you’re going to want one in every room (because same), there’s a color for each room or personality in your household.

Kendall Cornish is an e-commerce editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Instagram at @kendall.cornish — her DMs are open to all things fashion, food, and beauty.

At Travel + Leisure, we’re dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products to meet your needs on the road and at home. The T+L Top Picks seal is awarded to items our editors have determined to be the best buys in their category.

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GOP Sen. Ben Sasse Says Trump Mistreats Women and Flirts With White Supremacists in Audio Recording

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said that President Donald Trump has “flirted” with white supremacists, “kisses dictators’ butts” and also criticized the way that the president treats women in an audio recording obtained by The Washington Examiner.

Ben Sasse wearing a suit and tie: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) speaks while Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2020 in Washington, D.C. In an audio recording obtained by The Washington Examiner, Sasse criticized President Donald Trump after he was asked about his relationship with the president.

© Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) speaks while Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2020 in Washington, D.C. In an audio recording obtained by The Washington Examiner, Sasse criticized President Donald Trump after he was asked about his relationship with the president.

The comments that Sasse made were part of a nine-minute response the Republican senator gave when asked about his relationship with and criticism of Trump. According to the magazine, the audio was taken from a private call between Sasse and some of his constituents.

Sasse began his response by saying he worked hard to establish a working relationship with the president but reminded his listeners that he campaigned for other Republican presidential candidates before Trump became the party’s nominee in 2016. During the first two minutes of his answer, he said there were some issues on which he agreed with Trump, including efforts to appoint conservative federal judges. The Senate has already approved more than 200 of Trump’s judicial appointments, and the president has said he aspires to have at least 300 approved by the end of his first term in office.

Sasse spent the other seven minutes of his answer listing the policy positions on which he disagrees with Trump and explaining why Trump’s leadership concerns him about the future of the Republican Party, the Senate and the country as a whole. Sasse started by addressing the foreign policy problems he had with Trump, which he said included the way Trump “kisses dictators’ butts” and addressed neither the Uighur detention camps in China nor the plight of protesters in Hong Kong.

“It isn’t just that he fails to lead our allies, it’s that the United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership,” Sasse said.

The senator went on to list other issues he said he had with Trump: “The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor. The ways I criticized President [Barack] Obama for that kind of spending, I criticize President Trump for, as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists.” Sasse also mentioned the coronavirus pandemic, which he said Trump initially did not take seriously and added that Trump “careens from curb to curb” in his administration’s pandemic response.

Sasse said he expected some of his constituents to disagree with his views on the president—Trump won Nebraska by 25 points in 2016, according to election results compiled by The New York Times—but he said he has spoken with some Nebraskans who voiced concerns about Trump’s time in office. “They don’t really want

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