Cameron Mabie, Terrace Wyatt, Jr., and Weiyi Zhang in A Charlie Brown Christmas (Jim Vaiknoras, courtesy of The Coterie Theatre)
The Coterie Theatre is officially in the holiday spirit with a production of the anti-consumerism Christmas classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Charles M. Schultz’s play is adapted from the television special of the same name, based on his iconic comic strip, Peanuts. Directed here by William J. Christie, it’s a delightful effort geared toward very young children. In fact, I overheard multiple conversations indicating this was more than a few attendees’ first theatrical experience ever. (“That was a play! Now you know you love plays!” one parent told their beaming preschooler on the way out of the theater.) This production might be a bit too presentational for many adults to fully connect with but it is charming and reactions from entranced young audience members should be amusing enough to sustain even the more cynical adult chaperones for the duration of the short performance.
A Charlie Brown Christmas follows the titular character (plyed by Lucas Lowry) as he muddles through a disaffected ennui, troubled by the materialism he sees as having overtaken the holiday. Surrounded by his schoolmates who might not understand him but do love him, he works to find the true meaning of Christmas. Lowry and the rest of the cast are fantastic—committing to the caricatured stylizing without oversimplifying their performances—but the true standout is Terrace Wyatt, Jr., who plays Snoopy with impressive physicality and a range of infectious facial expressions, managing to really capture the spirit of the iconic pet dog. The show is scored by a phenomenal live jazz trio playing the original Vince Guaraldi arrangements, with an exceptionally fun performance of “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” as a bonus, letting both Wyatt and the band shine.
The Coterie’s production of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a charming option for anyone looking for a theatrical experience for young children this Christmas—even, perhaps those ready for their first-ever foray into the medium.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” runs through December 31 at the Coterie Theatre, 2450 Grand Blvd. For more information, visit www.thecoterie.org.