Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown is derived from the classic and beloved Peanuts cartoon strip created by Charles Schulz in the 1950s. The television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, first aired in 1965 and has been broadcast ever since as a staple of the holiday season, alongside other classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Director Marita Ericksen’s interpretation is a special adaptation for which she received a one-time approval from Tams-Widmark, the company who owns the license to the Broadway musical script. Ericksen borrowed from the original televised version as well as from the lesser-known sequel, It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, to create a unique production that can only be seen by VAA audiences.
The plot revolves around Charlie Brown (played by Benny Robinthal), who is depressed with the approach of Christmas despite the plethora of cards, presents and decorations everywhere. Charlie Brown confides in his friend Linus (played by Elliott James) that his depression has to do with the over-commercialization of Christmas. Has everyone forgotten the true meaning of this holiday? Everyone including his own dog Snoopy (played by Phoebe Ray), busy decorating his doghouse for a contest, seems to be contributing to Charlie’s concerns. Lucy (played by Cypress Sechrist) assumes the role of his psychiatrist, advising him that he needs to be more involved and should therefore direct the school nativity play. What ensues demonstrates Charlie Brown’s characteristic endurance, and the ability of his community to ultimately unite and discover the deeper meaning behind the glitz of the holiday season.
This 18-member ensemble is the youngest cast with which Ericksen
has ever worked. Many of them appeared in the previous season’s production of Cats, but several of them appear onstage for the first time. To accommodate the number of kids working on this production, four children share the role of Woodstock, and Ericksen has introduced a lesser-known Peanuts character, Roy. Notable songs in this musical include “Christmas Time is Here” and “My Little Drum,” with piano accompaniment by the talented Randy Bruce. For Ericksen, it’s a constant thrill to see the kids bring- ing the Peanuts characters to life.
– by Stephen Jeong
Merry Christmas Charlie Brown
Thursday–Saturday, December 12, 13 & 14, 7 pm
Sunday, December 15, 4 pm
Vashon Allied Arts
Tickets: Youth $6, Member/Senior $10, General $14
Available at VAA, Heron’s Nest, www.VashonAlliedArts.org