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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Harley Babbitt plays Charlie Brown and Lana Thompson takes on the role of Lucy in Youtheatre’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” 

  • Randall Keeling plays Woodstock and Margaret Gaughan plays Snoopy in this year’s Youtheatre Christmas production.

  • Lana Thompson stars as Lucy and Bobby Way plays Schroeder.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Woodstock played by Randall Keeling and Snoopy played by Margaret Gaughan in in Youtheatre's production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  

Friday, December 07, 2018 1:00 am

Youtheatre brings back 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

If you go

What: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

When: 7 p.m. today and Dec. 14, noon Saturday and Dec. 15, and 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 16

Where: First Presbyterian Theatre, 300 W. Wayne St.

Admission: $20 adults, $15 ages 18 and younger and 60 and older; group rates available; 422-4226 or tickets.artstix.org

What: Breakfast with Santa pre-show party; includes photo with Santa, goodie bag, sing-along and seating for the noon performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

When: 10 a.m. Saturday and Dec. 15

Where: McKay Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 300 W. Wayne St.

Admission: $30; 422-4226 or tickets.artstix.org

Lucy gives advice from her doctor's stand, Schroeder plays the piano, Snoopy's dog house is covered in lights and Charlie explores the meaning of Christmas as Youtheatre produces “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for the second year in a row.

Director Christopher J. Murphy says Youtheatre knew it wanted to put on the show again by the time it ended its sold-out run last year, though this year's production isn't a duplicate of what audiences saw in 2017.

Tweaks have been made, including an overhaul of the staging precipitated by using a different set. Some members of the cast are back from last year, including Harley Babbitt who plays Charlie Brown, but others are new.

“And then we've got some kids that are back, but playing different roles than they played last year,” Murphy says. “So that's been fun to see them explore the show from a different angle.”

All told, there are 45 children in the cast with 15 principals and an ensemble of 30 that is divided between the two weekends of the show.

Murphy says the production is a mix of what generations of families have loved about the TV special and some “unexpected treats.”

“There's pretty much nothing in the TV special that you love that is not in the stage show, but there are some added surprises as well,” he says.

Vince Guaraldi's classic music is played live onstage by a house band of Ben Wedler, Dan Katter and Tom Neumann.

Murphy has memories of gathering around the TV with his family to watch the TV special and imagines there are many other people that did the same. It is a story he believes people still want to share because its message of putting focus on peace and goodwill instead of commercialism is just as true today – if not more – than it was when the special first aired in 1965.

“I think that in 2018, we are so incredibly busy that we don't necessarily take the time to gather as a whole family,” Murphy says. “Certainly if we do, we don't put our cellular devices away and really share the experience the way we used to.

“But I think that doing it in a live theatrical setting, that hopefully we're encouraging people to get their family and their friends together and put the phone on mute and not just come see the show, but to experience it together in a new way.”

– Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette