My family was given four tickets to see Emerald City Theatre’s A Charlie Brown Christmas at Broadway in Chicago in exchange for posting a review of the show. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
Based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, and adapted for the small screen by Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired for television audiences in 1965. Over the past fifty years it has become a beloved Christmas tradition for families around the world.
Emerald City’s performance of the show’s stage adaptation (by Eric Schaeffer) for Chicago audiences was a beautiful tribute to the original A Charlie Brown Christmas and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season with our two boys.
In the stage re-telling of A Charlie Brown Christmas, children and adults alike are invited into Charlie Brown’s personal Christmas quest – past the commercialization of the holiday to discover the real meaning of Christmas. Navigating through Lucy’s psychiatric stand, Snoopy’s holiday light contest, a Christmas pagent gone wrong, and a sad little Christmas tree, Charlie finally and famously asks if anyone can explain the real meaning of Christmas to him. Little Linus with his silly blanket happily obliges, telling Charlie Brown about the baby in a manger, promised by God, and born in Bethlehem. Simply stated and beautifully retold, this was the moment that garnered the audiences applause and also maybe a few tears.
Linus and Lucy
These two were my favorite. Smart and sassy, Lucy (Jamie Finkenthal) was an absolute delight to watch and Linus (Denzel Love) was the perfect side-kick to the famously ho-hum Charlie Brown. He also interacted at the end of the show with my kids, so we spoke of no one else on the way home.
Live musicians who also act? Perfection. Pig Pen (Jeff Kurysz/Drums), Schroeder (Alex Benjamin/Piano), and Peppermint Patty (Elizabeth Sandej-Schmidt/Bass) not only acted in the show but were the actual Vince Guaraldi live accompaniment. Could not love this more.
Snoopy, Woodstock, and the Puppeteers
Micah Kronlokken and Isabella Karina Coelho were the puppeteers behind Snoopy and Woodstock for the show. Not only was it incredibly creative to play Snoopy as a puppet, they did it brilliantly.
We thought the show was over after curtain call, but the actors invited the audience to join them in a Peanuts gang dance and sing several Christmas carols before wrapping the show with a plug for One Fund (Emerald City’s non-profit project that delivers free arts education programs to underprivileged CPS students). Fabulous end to a fabulous show.
Show run and ticket information
A Charlie Brown Christmas runs through January 3, 2016 at the Broadway Playhouse in downtown Chicago (near Watertower Place). Tickets can be purchased online, in person, or by phone (800-775-2000). Group tickets for 10 or more people are now available by calling Broadway in Chicago group sales at 312-977-1710. For additional show information visit the Emerald City Theatre website.