To many, nothing brings the feeling of the holiday season more than watching A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS at home with their families. Now you can even see it live and in person! The Players Club of Swarthmore Children’s Theater puts on a fantastic show. The small theater upstairs was transformed into a place of fond memories. The set was perfect, with Charles Shulz-style painted houses and colorful little Christmas trees. It literally felt like stepping into the TV special.
The show follows the story of Charlie Brown’s Christmas play. To boost his self-esteem, Lucy has asked him to direct the production. Immediately upon beginning rehearsals, Charlie Brown believes he has failed. Nobody will listen to him or take him seriously, not even his own dog. When Charlie Brown and Linus fail to buy a suitable Christmas tree, he feels as if all hope is lost, until Linus reminds him of the true meaning of Christmas. The rest of the Peanuts gang gathers together to decorate their little tree and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
I was very impressed by the small cast of this show. The cast as a whole worked very well together, and it was evident that they were very committed. When the show first started, it was clear to the audience that these were adult actors, and they were not going to pretend to be anything else. However, as the show went on, I forgot about all that and only saw the childlike characters they were portraying.
Thomas Robert Irvin, who played Charlie Brown, brought the wishy-washy character to center stage with a heartwarming performance. Matthew Prince, as Linus, delivered a very touching rendition of Linus’ speech about Christmas. Justin Henry, as Snoopy, had no spoken lines in the production, but his character and talent shone through at every moment. Pig Pen, played by Brian Walsh, made me laugh every time he walked out on stage. Crystal Buck acted as a very convincing Lucy, especially when she gave Charlie Brown “psychiatric help.”
Despite some technical difficulties at the opening of the show, the pacing was very smooth. Scenes blended together well with some help from the original Peanuts music playing in the background, which was a very nice touch. True to its roots, the show only lasted about half an hour. Jim Carroll, the director of the show, seemed very positive and enthusiastic about the whole experience. As he said in his note in the program, he wishes that the audience members “once again find the true meaning of Christmas through [the cast’s] laughter and smiles.” I would recommend this show to anyone with children. It truly was an enjoyable experience.
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
Directed by Jim Carroll
December 3-11, 2011
Players Club of Swarthmore (Children’s Theater)
614 Fairview Road