Friday, December 14, 2018

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” comes to life at Schoolhouse Arts Center

By Elizabeth Richards

The holiday season inspires nostalgia and tradition. Watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a little of both – a long standing tradition and a reminder of childhood.  So, what could be better than watching this holiday classic come to life on stage? The answer is simple: watching it come to life with a few additions from other Christmas favorites.

Schoolhouse Arts Center has put together a show with perfectly portrayed members of the Peanuts gang, a beautiful performance by the Bonney Eagle Select Chorus and a few additional snippets from other classics to round it all out. 

This time of year, a chance to relax can be difficult to find. The brevity of this show makes it a perfect respite from all the chaos. It’s short enough to hold the attention of even very young children, but long and varied enough to satisfy avid theater fans. The show follows the television special’s script very closely, adding just enough extras to stretch it appropriately. Injecting additional material could pose a problem if done awkwardly, but that wasn’t the case at Schoolhouse. The addition of an adult Charles Brown to narrate the show fit well into the overall flow. Scenes featuring characters from other holiday classics were well placed transitions that didn’t pull attention away from the main show.

The familiar, well-loved Peanuts gang were portrayed as teenagers, rather than young children, which worked quite well. The age change didn’t alter the essence of the characters. Snoopy’s exuberant antics prompted laughter in all the right places as did Lucy’s self-assured bossy nature. Charlie Brown was a bit hard to hear at times, but he clearly expressed, through body language and dialogue, both his frustration at the commercialized nature of the season and his hopefulness that it might change. And Linus, quiet but self-confident, conveyed the true meaning of the season in a touching, compelling way.

The action throughout was true to the original special, especially the dancing scene where each performer smoothly executed their character’s signature moves.  It can be difficult to put on a show with such nostalgia attached and meet the high expectations of an audience who can’t help but have preconceived notions of how each character should look.  Schoolhouse Arts Center rose to the challenge, leaving the audience smiling and humming as they exited the theater.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” runs through December 16, with performances on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for students/seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

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