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BWW Interview: Steven Reineke Talks A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS with NY Pops, NY Theatre Ballet and TADA! Youth Theater

Steven Reineke. Photo by Richard Termine.

Are there any parts of the program you're most looking forward to? Any favorite moments or songs?

The whole thing is built with a really nice arc to it; it's a lot of fun telling this story about trying to put on this Christmas pageant, and they put Charlie Brown in charge of getting the tree, and of course, he gets the worst looking, saddest looking tree possible. But then Linus steps in and really tells everybody the whole, true meaning of Christmas. And that is just a great, great moment. And it's also when they sing "Just Like Me", and all the kids decide they're going to take this little tree and, they're like, "It's not so bad after all." And they make it into this beautiful tree. It's going to be a very theatrical moment onstage and one that's really going to tug at the heart strings.

I know early on with the TV special, it got some criticism because the message is so strong. I wondered what you thought about that as you go into the concert.

I did think about that; that's always a thought. The fact that they quote from the King James Bible about the meaning of Christmas with that great monologue. For so many people that is the meaning of Christmas, but even beyond a religious standpoint, it gets down to just stripping away the commercialism of Christmas and getting down to the heart of the matter and the things that really matter. So I think it's really just a universal message.

As far as Christmas and holiday concerts go, I'm sure you've done quite a few in your time directing, so how does this one compare to some of the others you've done?

Well, it's always fun, and of course a lot of work, but always incredibly gratifying to create something new that people haven't done before or seen before. So that's what makes this one so special and so unique. And also, it's for the kids; it's for our children's concerts. And in the past we've done The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, we've done The Polar Express, and it's so fun to be in Carnegie Hall and walk out onstage and hear and see all the kids that are there in the audience and their reactions throughout the whole performance. It's really magical to me to have these kids in Carnegie Hall witnessing really good art and being so entertained.

Is there anything that you wanted to add about the concert?

The executive producer, Lee Mendelson, is still alive, and I believe he's going to be there. He is firmly behind this project, so I'm really excited that we can present this and have him be with us as well.

That's amazing. So did you get to speak with him about including the new song in the show?

It was actually his suggestion. I didn't even know the song existed, and he brought it to my attention. And it's a wonderful, heart-wrenching song that is sure to bring a tear to your eye. And I had that reaction to it initially and thought, "We must add this to the show."

Be sure to check back later today for BWW's interview with the concert's host John Tartaglia!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, featuring The New York Pops and Music Director Steven Reineke, Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA, dancers from the New York Theatre Ballet and actors from TADA! Youth Theater, as well as Tony Award nominee John Tartaglia, is set for this Saturday, December 21 at 2 p.m. in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. For more information, visit www.carnegiehall.org.

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