"A Charlie Brown Christmas" returns to Playhouse Tulsa
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 3:37 AM
When it comes to the company's production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the founders of Playhouse Tulsa take turns doing nothing.
The company premiered this compact musical - which blends elements from several of the TV specials featuring Charles Schulz's characters from the comic strip "Peanuts" - in 2010.
"I think that was one of the only Playhouse shows that I had no hand in at all," said Courtneay Sanders, the company's managing director. "That show was pretty much Chris' baby."
Chris Crawford, Playhouse's artistic director, created the adaptation and directed the original production. However, Crawford is working this holiday season with a theater company in Florida, so Sanders is serving as director for this production.
"It's been one of our most requested shows - even by people who've never seen it," Sanders said, laughing. "We're all the time getting requests from other theater companies, schools, churches, you name it, asking if they could do this show."
However, Sanders said, the agreement the company worked out with the Schulz estate is very specific, "and we don't want to take any chances that might jeopardize that."
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" debuted on television in 1965 - the first animated special made from Schulz's popular comic strip. It helped establish the characters of Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy and the rest as icons of popular culture, and it spawned a continuing series of such shows.
Crawford's adaptation includes characters and events from some of those later specials - primarily to expand the story beyond the 20 or so minutes of a half-hour TV show.
And for Sanders, coming to this show for the first time as director, the challenge is to keep what began as a cartoon from coming across like a cartoon.
"Certainly there are moments that people know and expect to be in this show," she said. "But we're not trying to re-create the TV show. We want these characters to be more than two-dimensional."
"Yes, all the characters are children, and they need to have that kind of energy," Sanders said, "but they also need to have the poise and diction of an adult talking with a young child. So it's a balance between those young and old qualities that are in each of these characters."
The cast includes David Watson as Charlie Brown, JohnTom Knight as Linus, Shannon Garcia as Lucy, Aly Reagan as Sally, Will Acker as Snoopy, Lia Jennings as Peppermint Patty, Grace Stump as Marcie, Brittany Hamilton as Violet, Natalie Spack as Frieda, Madison Cunningham as Shermie, DeVante Malone as Schroeder, Rueben Wakefield as Pig Pen and Crystal Krachtt, Patty Whitlock and Becca Stump as Woodstock and his companions.
The music, composed by Vince Guaraldi, will be performed by pianist Stacy Lehwald, bassist Rod Clark and drummer Russell Grant.
Each performance will be followed by a Christmas craft workshop.
"Audience members will be able to come on stage, make ornaments, take photographs, whatever," Sanders said. "It will be like an open house."
‘A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS’
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Doenges Theatre, Tulsa PAC, 110
E. Second St.
Tickets: $10-$20. 918-596-7111,
Original Print Headline: Prized 'Peanuts'
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
Linus (JohnTom Knight) contemplates the sad little Christmas tree as his friends gather decorations in this scene from Playhouse Tulsa's production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Courtesy