On Stage

Seasonal Stages

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Attend

What: A Charlie Brown Christmas

When: 7 pm Fri., Dec. 7 -9

Where: BAAY Theatre, 1059 N. State St.

Cost: $10

Info: http://www.baay.org

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The topics of mass commercialism and childhood depression and bullying all made appearances when the animated television special A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on the small screen in 1965, and there were serious doubts from CBS network bigwigs that the seasonal offering would please the masses.

In addition to the sometimes thorny subject matter, the tale was told with the voices of actual children (instead of adult actors trying to sound like children), didn’t include a laugh track (which was the norm during that bygone era), and featured an unconventional jazz score by pianist Vince Guaraldi.

After airing, what followed could best be described as a Christmas miracle. It turned out the things that made the 30-minute animation unorthodox were the keys to its continued success. Its jazz soundtrack has sold more than four million copies in the United States alone, and the wintertime special has aired during December every year since its premiere. It’s won both Emmy and Peabody awards, and theatrical versions are also apt to pop up across the land when the holiday season draws near.

When the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth presents performances of its version of A Charlie Brown Christmas Dec. 7-9 and 14-16 at its State Street theater, it’ll be with Charles M. Schulz’s iconic comic strip characters intact, and once again looking to discover the true meaning of the season.

Performers ages 9-12 will hew to the now-timeless tale, which follows the titular character as he searches for the reasons why he’s still sad, despite the fact everybody else he knows seems to be content with the traditions and consumerism of the holiday season—including his typically loyal dog, Snoopy, who’s entered his doghouse in a lights and display contest that promises a cash prize to the winner.

When Lucy, his friend and archenemy, suggests Charlie Brown direct a Christmas play and offers her help to pull it off, he accepts the challenge, but loses control during the first rehearsal when everyone breaks out in song and dance.

What follows is the search for a proper Christmas tree, additional scoldings by Lucy and her minions, and an impassioned monologue by Linus, who manages to bring the search for the holiday spirit full circle.

With savvy direction and choreography by Lisa Markowitz, and musical direction by Evan Ingalls, the cast and crew of BAAY’s production of A Charlie Brown Christmas promise to make their audiences reflect on what this time of the year really means to them. And, just like the original, they’ll ask those who are watching to provide their own laugh track.

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