The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title A Charlie Brown Christmas
Organization FreeFall Stage
Date(s) of show December 5-20, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

Do you sometimes find the holiday season depressing, with its unrelenting commercialism and garish decorations? That’s the mood Charlie Brown finds himself in at the beginning of FreeFall Stage’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” based on Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” characters. Even his pet beagle, Snoopy, played alternately by Lilian Fisk and Hannah Rothman, with his non-stop dancing can’t cheer him up. Charlie Brown, played to perfection by Sean Stewart, naturally seeks psychiatric help from the neighborhood know-it-all, Lucy Van Pelt, the hilarious Tessa Talley.

Doctor Lucy, for a five-cent fee, advises Charlie Brown to “get involved,” and offers him the position of director of the neighborhood Christmas play. Lucy herself soon takes charge and Charlie Brown is tasked with selecting a Christmas tree for the play. Offended by the showy artificial trees at the lot, he finally selects the only real tree to be found, a hopelessly bedraggled limp branch. His selection is greeted with mocking laughter by the other kids.

At his lowest point, Charlie Brown asks, “Doesn’t anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?” Lucy’s little brother, Linus, who up to this point has mostly sucked his thumb and hugged his ever-present blanket, suddenly takes center stage, dropping his blanket and taking off his cap. Performed with grace and skill, Jaymes Escobedo as Linus flawlessly recites the Christmas story from the Bible.

From that moment, everything changes. The gang, borrowing some lights and ornaments from Snoopy’s first-prize-winning decorated doghouse, surround the hopeless tree and transform it into a thing of beauty. They then become a choir and fill the house with “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Even Snoopy howls along. And that, Charlie Brown, is the true meaning of Christmas.

There are too many wonderful child actors in the cast to list them all. Under the guidance of 4th-time director Emma Eldridge, each contributes just what is needed to the overall delightfulness of the play. FreeFall Stage is a teaching theatre for children, and Managing Director Deanne Eldridge is outstanding at turning regular kids into competent, confident performers.

 Reviews Home    Organizations    Shows