A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
Reflections by GVPTA blogger Heather Evens
Name a character from The Peanuts comic strip, and the odds are good that he or she was on the stage Sunday afternoon during the opening performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas at The Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. Charlie Brown and Snoopy? Of course. Lucy, Sally, Linus, Patty, Violet, Pig-Pen, Schroeder? Yup! Even Shermy, as well as Frieda with her ‘naturally curly hair’! The whole gang (well, okay, actors portraying the gang) was there to bring to life the story of how Charlie Brown finally found the true meaning of Christmas.
There was nostalgia galore in the theatre when we saw the gang skating on the frozen pond at the top of the show, and when Charlie Brown and Linus contemplated Christmas trees, and when Snoopy decorated his doghouse in lights. The show was true to the cartoon special, and for someone like me, who’s watched the cartoon every year since the age of about six, seeing these characters in real life was a treat. And I’m not the only who thought so – as far as I could see, every adult in the theatre had a smile on their face for pretty much the entire show.
But here’s the thing: this production was put on for children! Well, families anyways. Carousel Theatre for Young People created this production for kids ages three and up – ‘family-friendly’ shows are their specialty. But to be honest, I don’t know who enjoyed it more – the kids or the adults.
The seven-year-old who accompanied me to this show had never seen a Peanuts cartoon before, and when told it was a story about Charlie Brown, responded, “Is that the one with the dog?” She’s also very new to live theatre in general, so I figured she was a good litmus test for whether this show would truly appeal to kids. I snuck more than a few glances at her during the show, and sure enough, she was paying full attention to the action on stage the entire 60 minutes. And, she happily joined in with the Christmas carol sing-along at the end of the show. Litmus test = positive for kid-friendliness.
Seeing a child enjoying a theatrical production warms my heart. It’s positive childhood experiences like this that stick with us for life, and it’s shows like this one that can hook kids on the arts in general and theatre specifically, molding them into adult theatre-lovers. Again, for me, warm heart.
There are a few theatre companies around town that specialize in productions like this – “theatre for young audiences” or TYA, as it’s called. If you’ve ever wondered if your kids will like theatre, I recommend checking out one of the TYA shows playing throughout the year. And, if you grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas like I did, I’d suggest you try to get your hands on some tickets to this production by Carousel Theatre if there are any left. You won’t regret it. And frankly, between you and me, you don’t even really need to bring a kid!
A Charlie Brown Christmas plays at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island through December 31, 2016. It’s recommended for ages 3+, and there are a handful of special all-ages shows. Information and (hopefully still) tickets for sale at carouseltheatre.ca