Merry Christmas Charlie Brown Brings Familiar Fun To The Peabody Opera House

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Dec 5, 2017 at The Peabody

I had the good fortune to attend A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage at the Peabody Opera House on December 15, 2017. It’s a live version of the classic Peanuts holiday special, with the script verbatim from the show and the music licensed from the Vince Guaraldi Trio, it was a familiar favorite for young and old alike, and indeed I think there were more adults in the audience strolling down memory lane than there were children.

I really don’t feel that the plot needs to be explained. At this point the odds are pretty good that if you’re reading this review you’ve seen the classic television special at least once or twenty times since 1965. Instead, allow me to heap superlatives upon the actors, which took more work than you might think. For some reason neither the Playbill nor any website I’ve been able to find gives any mention of the names of the cast or crew. Fortunately, the good folk at the Peabody’s marketing and communications department came through in the clutch. Now I can tell you that Charlie Brown not only reminded me a lot of my friend Eric Piening but was, in fact, played by Casey Martin Klein. Despite sporting a full head of hair, he delivered a wonderful Charlie Brown, demonstrating the ol’ Blockhead’s tendency to be his own worst enemy, and yet possessing the heart to try to make the best of things. Lucy was spot on in terms of attitude and sass, thanks to Rebecca Kostell bringing her to life. I loved seeing her try to diagnose Charlie Brown’s phobia, freak out about getting kissed by Snoopy, and tease Schroeder about his love of Beethoven. Schroeder, aka Music Director Spencer Hansen, lead the on-stage jazz trio along with Caleb “Shermie” Pringle on bass and Drew “Pig Pen” Bastian on the drums. I bet Mr. Bastian never expected there would come a day where he’d have to sit through a make-up session to look like a human dust bunny in order to play jazz and Christmas tunes, but I am certainly glad he does! Liana Costable’s voice as Sally’s was perfect, and her sweet babboo Linus, played by Richard Spitaletta, handled his soliloquy with aplomb. Josh Dunn was the perfect Snoopy, hamming it up on stage, dancing his way around the audience, and high-fiving the youngsters.

After the main program the cast lead the audience through several classic Christmas songs, encouraging everyone to sing along. Casey Martin Kline brought out a guitar to strum along on a couple of songs, and Josh Dunn even jammed on a ukulele for a number. It was a grand time, and the packed house was very appreciative. You can’t beat a classic like the Charlie Brown holiday specials, and A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage should be a holiday tradition as well. If you’re reading this thinking, “Meh, it’s just for kids,” think again! The audience was probably more adult than anything, and there was only one child in my whole row. I think it’s perfect for everyone—the adults will love the nostalgia and the kids will love Snoopy. My personal favorite moment was when the whole gang hit the stage to rehearse their Christmas play. Schroeder started playing the classic “Linus and Lucy” song that immediately comes to mind whenever the name Charlie Brown is mentioned, and the “kids” broke into that awkwardly silly dance that is even more hysterical live than it is in classic 2-D animation.The Company of the National Tour of A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage. Photo Credit: Chad David Kraus photography

I hope this National Tour of A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage makes St. Louis a regular stop around the holidays, because I already want to see it again. I have to wait another whole year? Good grief!

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0