Review: A Charlie Brown Christmas at The Coterie



Photo (Left to Right): Justin Barron (as Charlie Brown), Deanna Mazdra (as Sally), Shon Ruffin (as Lucy), Tony Pulford (as Linus), Evan J. Lovelace (as Snoopy), R.H. Wilhoit (as Pigpen), Mia Grace McManamy (as Frieda), and Ai Vy Bui (as Violet) in A Charlie Brown Christmas, written by Charles Shultz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, and directed by William J. Christie, playing live on stage at The Coterie, November 7, 2017 – December 31, 2017.

Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre. Peanuts © 2017 Peanuts Worldwide LLC. All Rights Reserved.

This holiday season, families will delight in the return of A Charlie Brown Christmas at The Coterie. I love Charlie Brown. I love Snoopy. I love Schroeder and Pigpen... one of my children is named Lucy (this had nothing to do with the Peanuts... but she delights in seeing a character with her name on stage). Our family includes a viewing of every Peanuts holiday special as part of our annual traditions.... like most American families. When the Coterie brought A Charlie Brown Christmas to stage we were thrilled... and it seems much of Kansas City agrees. The show is ALMOST sold-out! If you want tickets, you need to snatch them up quick.

This past weekend, we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and we were delighted. The cast was phenomenal and the show was amazing. Even for fans who've memorized the television classic, the stage performance has a special magic all its own.

The set is as if lifted straight from the animated special and brought to life. The music includes special arrangements by Arther Whitelaw and Ruby Persson - including a fabulous rendition of Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron. 

The show opens with the Peanuts gang skating onto the stage. Our pal Charlie (played by Justin Barron) is teased by his friends as he often makes mistakes. Meanwhile, he laments the commercialism of Christmas, all the while, his best friend Snoopy is celebrating the holiday with panache as he is determined to win the local decorating contest. The show brought laughs as Pigpen (played by R.H. Wilhoit) scratches his head in contemplation and a cloud of dust fills the air, Snoopy (played whimsically by Evan. J. Lovelace) dances and frolics about the stage, Schroeder (played by Vincent Wagner) plays dance music during play rehearsals, and Lucy (Shon Ruffin) dispenses her own brand of wisdom to the kids.

Justin Barron (as Charlie Brown) in A Charlie Brown Christmas, written by Charles Shultz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, and directed by William J. Christie, playing live on stage at The Coterie, November 7, 2017 – December 31, 2017. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre. Peanuts © 2017 Peanuts Worldwide LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Justin Barron (as Charlie Brown) in A Charlie Brown Christmas, written by Charles Shultz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, and directed by William J. Christie, playing live on stage at The Coterie, November 7, 2017 – December 31, 2017. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre. Peanuts © 2017 Peanuts Worldwide LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

The story is often heart-felt as well, as Linus writes his letter to Santa and recounts the true meaning of Christmas. It was a joy to see Tony Pulford on the Coterie stage again. He's become a regular with roles in Rudolph, The Miracle Worker, Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat and others. We always enjoy his performances and this one was once again a beautiful portrayal of a beloved character. He truly grasped the sincerity and innocence of Linus.

Following the animated story's plot, Charlie is enlisted to direct the Christmas play and he meets challenges as the kids would rather dance and object to his direction. On a quest to find the true meaning of Christmas, he goes to a tree lot with Linus and adopts the most fragile tree there is. At first mocked, the kids come to appreciate what Charlie sees in the tree. And, Linus, reminds us all of what Christmas is all about.

As Linus quoted the familiar passage of scripture, and Charlie adopted the poor little unlovable tree, our family was reminded of Christ and how we are all adopted by Him.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~ Luke 2: 8-14

After the actors take their bows, the audience is treated to a beautiful rendition of Do You Hear What I Hear? and Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron. These musical numbers were beautifully performed and choreographed - a perfect finale to a fabulous show.

We're delighted that The Coterie has once again brought A Charlie Brown Christmas to stage and we hope your family is able to enjoy the show as well.

Take advantage of these free "extras" being offered during the run of A Charlie Brown Christmas (with paid admission):

  • Friday, November 10, 7:00 p.m.: Opening Night Celebration. A free post-performance reception with the company, staff, and board of directors.
  • Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12, 2:00 p.m.: Question & Answer session. A free Q&A with members of The Coterie’s staff and artistic company will immediately follow the performance.
  • Fridays, November 17 and 24, and December 1, 8, 15, and 22, 7:00 p.m.: Friday Family Fun Night. Post-performance autograph session and photo op with cast members.
  • Saturday, November 18, 2:00 p.m.: Interpreted performance in American Sign Language. 

Tip: While you're there, play at Legoland Discovery Center, greet animals at Sea Life, or create art at Hallmark's FREE Kaleidoscope. Or, head next door to Union Station to enjoy time at Science City or watch a film on the Extreme Screen.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is showing at The Coterie thru Dec. 31. Tickets range from $12-17. Call 816.474.6552 for reservations.

Catch a sneak peek of the show here:

 

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