**** Highly Recommended **** My six-year-old granddaughter Molly and I went to see Emerald City Theatre’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Broadway Playhouse over the weekend. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, if Molly likes a play, she’ll get autographs. If she doesn’t, she won’t. With “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, she not only got autographs, she wanted her picture taken with the cast. Molly gives “A Charlie Brown Christmas” 4 BIG Spotlights.
For parents who might arrive a little early, there are child-sized tables set up in the lobby with coloring supplies. Inside the theater, original holiday-related Peanuts strips are projected while Christmas carols are playing. Molly enjoyed reading the captions.
Emerald City’s adaptations are usually true to the source, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is no exception. With the original dialogue and jazz music, it was like watching the television special brought to life.
The Peanuts gang are all here: Charlie Brown (David Wesley Mitchell), Lucy (Jamie Finkenthal), Linus (Denzel Love), Pig Pen (Jeff Kurysz), Frieda (Sadie Rose Glaspey), Schroeder (Alex Benjamin), Violet (Darian Tene), Sally (Mary Margaret Roberts), Peppermint Patty (Elizabeth Sandej-Schmidt) and Shermy (Ethan Warren). Snoopy and Woodstock are here too, skillfully operated by Isabella Karina Coelho and Micah Kronlokken.
- Charlie Brown tells Linus that he’s down in the dumps because he doesn’t understand the whole point of Christmas – and he hasn’t gotten any Christmas cards in the mail.
- Lucy pulls out her Psychiatrist Booth to analyze Charlie Brown – but only after he pays 5 cents. She decides he needs to direct the Christmas play.
- Snoopy is decorating his dog house for the neighborhood Decorated House Contest.
- Charlie’s sister Sally demands that he help her write a letter to Santa in which she asks for lots of money.
- The other kids are more interested in dancing than in rehearsing so Charlie Brown decides they need a Christmas tree, but there’s only one left on the lot, a scraggly one that needs lots of love.
- Standing in the aisle, Linus recites the story of the birth of Jesus, which is the whole point of Christmas.
- Snoopy gets hold of Linus’s blanket and won’t let go so there’s a tug of war.
- Schroeder tries to play a version of Jingle Bells to suit Lucy.
Musical accompaniment was provided by Pig Pen (Kurysz) on drums, Schroeder (Benjamin) on piano and Peppermint Patty (Sandej-Schmidt) on bass.
After the play concluded, the cast scattered throughout the theater to encourage everyone in the audience to sing a round of Christmas songs, accompanied by some chair dancing. Most were available in the lobby for autographs and pictures. If you’re interested in a souvenir, plenty of things are on sale. Molly chose a CD of the music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. She said her Dad would love it!
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” runs through January 3rd at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, Chicago. Performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 am; see www.broadwayinchicago.com for additional dates. Running time is about an hour. Tickets range from $16-$30. Parking at a reduced rate is available in the Water Tower Place garage. Get a validation card from any usher. FYI (800) 775-2000, www.ticketmaster.com or www.broadwayinchicago.com.