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
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.