It cannot be the start of a holiday season at Crown Center without the rollout of the annual Coterie holiday show. This year thousands of young people, their parents, and their teachers will be treated for the second time to the previously only animated "Charlie Brown Christmas" now come to life on the Coterie stage. The looks of wonder and rapt attention on young faces makes this a holiday tradition worth repeating.

Our story begins on a frozen pond, put to use as an ice rink by the whole "Peanuts" gang. Charlie Brown (Justin Barron) tells Linus (Tony Pulford) he is blue over the over-commercialization of Christmas. Charlie doesn't know what the real Christmas is all about.

Feeling dejected, Charlie Brown visits Lucy (Shon Ruffin) in her psychiatric booth. She recommends that he direct a Christmas play. Charlie Brown is excited, and Lucy promises to help. On his way to play rehearsal, Charlie Brown finds Snoopy (Evan J. Lovelace) decorating his doghouse and laments that even his beagle focuses on the commercial. Continuing onward, Charlie runs into his sister Sally (Deanna Mazdra) who asks help with her Santa Letter. Sally has a long list, but she will also accept cash. Charlie Brown becomes even more dismayed.

I won't spoil the rest of the story for you except to say that the other characters redeem Charlie's blues in the end. The performance ends with an impromptu concert by all the named characters plus Pigpen (R.H. Wilheit), Frieda1 (Darcie Hingula), Freida2 (Mia Grace McManomy), Schroeder (Vincent Wagner), Violet (Al Vy Bul), and Shermy (David LaVota).

Gary Adams is the Musical Director backed up by Sam Wisman on the drums, and Jeff Harshbarger on the string bass. Direction and Production Stage Manager is William J. Christie. The delightful set was designed by Scott "Rex" Hobart.

The production is nicely professional with excellent performances from all involved. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" continues at the Coterie Theatre through December 31.

Tickets are available on the Coterie website or by telephone at 816-474-6552.

Photo (Left to Right): Justin Barron (as Charlie Brown), Deanna Mazdra (as Sally), Shon Ruffin (as Lucy), Tony Pulford (as Linus), Evan J. Lovelace (as Snoopy), R.H. Wilhoit (as Pigpen), Mia Grace McManamy (as Frieda), and Ai Vy Bui (as Violet) Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre. Peanuts © 2017 Peanuts Worldwide LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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From This Author Alan Portner

Alan Portner Al Portner is a retired career journalist and media executive. He has written for publication over more than 40 years. He has published daily newspapers (read more...)

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