The “Peanuts” comic strip characters have been beloved for more than five decades in comics and television, and the phenomenon that is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” makes the holiday story one for all ages.
For the second year, Fuse Productions will present its live version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for three performances at noon, 1:30 and 3 pm. The stage version of the beloved 1965 TV classic will feature all the music of Vince Guaraldi, including the song “Christmas Time Is Here.” The 30-minute show is perfect for all ages.
“Much of it has to do with the baby boomers growing up with the animated special, seeing it every year and it becoming an indispensable part of the holiday season,” the show’s director, Richard Biever, said. “Many people don’t consider it Christmas without seeing it.”
Based on the Charles M. Schulz classic comic strip first published in 1950 and the animated television specials that followed, the musical features the“Peanuts” gang, including Sean Toso as Charlie Brown, Michael Waldhier as Snoopy, Michael Tews as Schroeder and Ashley Moore as Lucy.
With the costumes and dialogue, the cast wanted to get as close as possible to the look of the classic cartoon.
“With costuming and props, it is important to stay true to these beloved characters and their story,” Moore said. “They want to stay as true to this classic as they can.”
“A lot of people know the lines verbatim, so that’s one of the interesting challenges with this show,” Tews said. “You really do have to be very faithful to the original, but at the same time, as a performer, you always want to make it your own. You just don’t want to mimic.”
“After being televised for 49 years, we know the audience has some expectations on what they should see on stage, so everything is as authentic as it can be; from Linus’ signature blue blanket to Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree with a single red Christmas ball attached,” Moore added.
There’s a reason “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has been televised consistently for almost five decades. It’s a true Christmas classic that has transcended generations and boils down the true meaning of Christmas. The message conveyed is the season’s increasing commercialism, something that is even more relevant in today’s fast-paced society.
“Most people identify with Charlie Brown’s ambivalence about the holiday,” Biever said. “We want to feel the peace and joy of the season, but the season seems to revolve around consumerism. Most people can relate to that. Then when Linus very simply and eloquently recites the story of Jesus’ birth without elaboration, it becomes clear that ‘On Earth peace, good will toward men’ is what Christmas is all about.”
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is just as long as the TV special, making the show accessible to young children and their families.
“We get to introduce live theater to a whole new generation,” Biever said. “Last year we had children lining up to get photos and autographs with the ‘Peanuts’ characters. One little boy was dressed as Charlie Brown and he couldn’t have been more excited to meet the ‘real’ Charlie Brown.”
“That’s what Christmas is really about — surrounding yourself with those you love, helping your fellow man and taking joy from those moments. I hope the children walk away with that message in mind,” Moore said.