BWW Review: New York Pops and Carnegie Hall Present A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
On Sunday, December 20, at 3:00 PM in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute presented A Charlie Brown Christmas. This was a special holiday family concert that was a collaboration between five New York City arts organizations: The New York Pops, The Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute, New York Theatre Ballet, Essential Voices USA and TADA!Youth Theater. These cultural organizations offer wonderful arts outreach to children in the New York City schools, community organizations, hospitals and senior centers. New York City is blessed to have these dedicated and talented groups.
If you were not yet in the Christmas spirit when you entered Carnegie Hall, you definitely were by the time you left. Uplifting and inspiring, this hour-long Christmas musical celebration was for everyone of any age. Beginning with familiar carols performed by the shimmering New York Pops (led by Steven Reineke), the soaring voices of Essential Voices USA (under the direction of Judith Clurman), and the engaging John Bolton of Broadway fame, the audience was transported to a magical holiday realm. The brilliant stage direction and choreography were by Liza Gennaro.
New York Theatre Ballet, a New York City cultural dance jewel founded and directed by Diana Byar, performed the lovely dances to familiar holiday music. Ms. Gennaro cleverly fitted the choreography to the small area the dancers used in front of the orchestra, enabling their dancing to be wonderfully expansive even in the small space.
The centerpiece of the show was a theatrical version of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the now legendary television special that is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The voices of characters of Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus were read by AJ Walker, Samantha Pohly and Michael Sanchez respectively of the TADA!Youth Theater. All three of these young thespians were simply splendid. The action was danced by members of New York Theatre Ballet-all admirably.
Of course, the major star's entrance was saved for the finale. Santa Claus made his way down the aisle onto the stage to conduct the show's final numbers and sent the happy and cheering audience off to a beautiful start of their Christmas celebratory week.
Photo by Richard Termine.