The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title A Charlie Brown Christmas
Organization FreeFall Stage
Date(s) of show December 6-21, 2013
Reviewer Gerry Camp

Christmas  is almost here, but Charlie Brown is depressed in FreeFall Stage’s traditional  production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Snoopy’s doghouse is decorated with enough lights and ornaments to impress any neighbors, but for Charlie Brown, it’s just another day with no Christmas card in the mailbox.

Charlie Brown is so depressed he decides to seek psychiatric help. Fortunately Lucy is on hand in her lemonade stand psychiatric booth. After depositing the five cent fee, Charlie Brown tells Lucy what he is feeling. She itemizes the list of possible phobias which might apply and decides the diagnosis is “panphobia,” or fear of everything. Charlie Brown needs something to do to improve his self-esteem.

What Lucy prescribes is that Charlie Brown become the director of the neighborhood Christmas play. He gives it a try, but has little success. The kids can’t be distracted from their un-choreographed dancing to Schroeder’s spirited piano playing. Charlie Brown is, however, given another task. He and Linus are sent to select the perfect Christmas tree.

Confronted with several beautifully decorated artificial trees, Charlie is discouraged until he spots a pathetic looking, but real evergreen tree that looks more like a discarded branch. That’s the perfect tree, in Charlie Brown’s eyes, but when he brings it back the other kids are horrified at his choice.

Charlie Brown again asks what the meaning of Christmas really is, and Linus (Sean Stewart), who up to this point has only mumbled and hidden under his ever-present blanket, drops the blanket, removes his stocking cap, and flawlessly recites the Christmas story from the Bible. This changes the whole mood of the gang, and gathering around Charlie Brown’s tree, they transform it, and perform a Christmas carol worthy of the Christmas play.

The cast, under the skilled direction of Emma Eldridge, are all funny and charming. Standouts are Brendan Jobe, who is the perfect Charlie Brown, and Mia Comstock, who brings the loudmouth Lucy to life. Joey Baciocco as Schroeder makes beautiful music on his tiny toy piano while ignoring Lucy, who is in love with him. Snoopy, who has no lines (he’s a beagle, after all), played by Jaymes Escobedo, comes close on occasion to stealing the show. His costume is amazing. The rest of the cast, Alyssa Jones as Sally, Cameron Wall as Pig-Pen, Gracie Brillisour as Frida, and Tessa Talley as Violet keep the show moving at a rapid pace. Chad Eldridge, thr narrator, keeps the audience informed about the action.

In my opinion, this is a perfect Christmas show to bring children to. Its running time, about 35 minutes, is perfect for young attention spans, and the production crew has installed a front row of beanbag chairs which put the children in the audience almost in the play. And the fun of seeing children as young as eight acting their hearts out and having a total blast with no adults on stage might inspire young audience members to give the stage a try someday themselves. Adults, by the way, will have a great time also.

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