A Charlie Brown Christmas
by San Diego Junior Theatre

Photo by Daniel BairdEveryone’s familiar with the animated holiday classic that first aired on December 9, 1965. It immediately became one of the most beloved Christmas traditions in America, and Charlie Brown’s search for the true meaning of Christmas unfettered by commercialism has remained beloved for the past forty years.

Now you can also see this story without animation, performed by real children right in front of you. San Diego Junior Theatre has started putting on the stage version, which this year was held at their theatre space in La Jolla.

Jennifer Winspear directs a production that retains a lot of the simple charm of the original, beginning with an eager snowball fight among the Peanuts gang, with Wendy Huang and Garred Kluth providing the familiar jazzy background music.

The cast is led by Jordan Woods as the lovable loser Charlie Brown, and Jordan has a great humbleness about him that matches the character who keeps trying despite the setbacks. Marissa Newlee is the decidedly un-humble Lucy. Elliot Rappaport plays the wise-beyond-his-years, blanket-loving Linus. He is pursued by Charlie Brown’s little sister, with Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman sparkling in the role of Sally. Other good performances come from Marisa Acosta as nerdy Marcie, Jack Conrad as Schroeder, and Gillian Kelly as Pig Pen who is covered in “historical” dust. Peppermint Patty (Tracy Warren), Frieda (Ursula Granirer), and Patty (Taryn O’Connor) kick it off with an amusing “turn off your cell phones” announcement with help from their heard but unseen teacher (Mana Shimamura).

And then, of course, there’s Snoopy and Woodstock. Brennen Winspear is a fun and confident Snoopy who skates around on his skate sneakers. Casey Purlia Johnson is a hit with her dancing and naturally dynamic stage presence. Together they fill up the scene changes with dancing everything from ballet to the tango.

In the end, Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree will inspire the kids to Christmas carols, and a magical holiday snow will fall on the La Jolla stage.

Performs through December 17, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Photo by Daniel BairdCharlie Brown: Jordan Woods
Linus: Elliot Rappaport
Lucy: Marissa Newlee
Snoopy: Brennen Winspear
Woodstock: Casey Purlia Johnson
Sally: Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman
Schroeder: Jack Connard
Violet: Juliette Garay
Peppermint Patty: Tracy Warren
Frieda: Ursula Granirer
Marcie: Marisa Acosta
Pig Pen: Gillian Kelly
Eudora: Olivia Heifetz
Patty: Taryn O'Connor
Teacher/Lady with Presents/Tree Lot Owner: Mana Shimamura

Director/Choreographer: Jennifer Winspear
Music Director: Wendy Huant
Set Design: Tony Cucuzzella
Lighting Design: Cynthia Bloodgood
Costume Design: Cynthia Carvajal
Make-up Design: David Pelton
Sound Design: Robin Whitehouse


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