Winter Park/Live theatre: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’
December 19, 2008
Like Charles Schultz’ popular Charlie Brown character, some people look beyond all the shiny paper, bows, mass advertising and pumped-up profiteering for the true meaning of Christmas.
Schultz’ Peanuts Gang has inspired many adaptations of their story, including Grand Theatre Company’s holiday play “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The live staging of the classic favorite is based on the original show, produced by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson with close contact with Schultz.
The story tells of good ol’ Chuck, tired of the commercialism of Christmas. The empathic Charlie Brown, played by Eldon Oswald, looks to his friends for answers. But nutty characters Linus and Lucy van Pelt (Aaron Rustebakke and Kimberlee Nanda), Sally Brown (Hannah Heckerson), Peppermint Patty (Shelby Mitchell), Schroeder (Tanny Nanda), and Snoopy (Randel Davis) seem too busy enjoying all the fun of the season to pay him any mind. They just can’t get Charlie own of his rut.
Things worsen when he finds himself in charge of the holiday pageant.
The plot stays true to the original show but company co-owners Kimberlee and Tanny have sprinkled in some scenes from Schultz’ famous cartoon strip. The play also includes several popular holiday songs, as well as several of the original jazz recordings of Vince Guaraldi.
The performance will be Davis’ fourth portrayal of scene-stealer Snoopy. Tanny played Schroeder before in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.” He and Kimberlee, director and musical director respectively, chose the show because they have always been Schultz fans.
Tanny aspired to be a cartoonist in his younger days and Schultz “was a personal hero,” he said. “He brilliantly captured true emotions and depth within a cartoon about kids dealing with everyday life.”
Like the offer for “Ha Ha Holidays,” audience members who drop off a canned good at the theatre to benefit the Mountain Family Center receive $3 off one adult ticket.
After all, Tanny reminds, it is the season of giving and the company loves to help out the community.
“They are a good organization,” he said of the center. “At the end of our holiday season, we will have a great big gift for them from our wonderful patrons.”
The play is rated PG and is very appropriate for young audiences.