BWW Review: A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS Opens at the Coterie Theatre
The only snow I want to see this year is the snow that transforms the stage at the Coterie Theatre into a winter wonderland at the opening night of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. William J. Christie directs this hilarious stage adaption by Eric Schaeffer. Written by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz the play is based on the 1965 television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson.
This is the third presentation of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS by the Coterie each different than previous productions. Christie brings to life Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Schroeder, and the whole Peanuts gang in a style more reminiscent of cartoon characters, which I found particularly humorous and refreshing. Each character appears more animated than I anticipated, much to the delight of the audience.
Accompanied by a three-piece band with Gary Adams on piano, Sam Wisman percussions, and Jeff Harshbarger on bass A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is a marvelous way to usher in the upcoming holiday season. The scenery at the Coterie Theatre always is appropriate for the theme of the production, but with Charlie Brown set designer Scott Hobart goes beyond the usual high standards of the theater putting the audience, adults and children alike, in a festive mood the moment they take their seats.
In A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, Charlie played by Jordan Luty is tasked with directing the school play a daunting task since no one, not even mans best friend Snoopy seems to listen to or even respect him. Lucy, played by Allison Jones, asks Charlie to direct but in a short time takes over the role sending him to go and pick out an aluminum tree for the pageant. When he and Linus, played by Phil Newman, return he is ridiculed for picking out such a scrawny pathetic tree. It is only after Linus reveals the true meaning of Christmas that the gang sees the beauty that Charlie did in the tree and transforms it into a tree fit for any Christmas show.
The Coterie has put together a very talented cast to bring the television cartoon to life. Each performer brings energy to the stage that keeps the audience involved through the last curtain call. There were two exceptional performances Newman as Linus and Darrington Clark as Snoopy, these two are top dog. Newman and Clark are electric in their characters, Clark especially appealing to the children in the audience (though I found his actions very humorous also).
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS will be performed over 90 times before the end of its run on December 29. Each performance ends with a special encore performance of Snoopy's Christmas, detailing his encounter on Christmas Eve with the Red Baron. This show is a delight for children and adults and is a great way to begin or carry-on the Christmas spirit. To purchase tickets online go to www.thecoterie.org.
Photos by Erin Stricker courtesy of the Coterie Theatre