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"A Charlie Brown Christmas" at Taproot Theatre is packed with fun!




Andrew Scott Bullard and Sophia Franzella in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (2017) at Taproot Theatre.

Erik Stuhaug

A Charlie Brown Christmas is short and sweet but packed with fun!


Simple and sweet, heart-warming and funny, A Charlie Brown Christmas at Taproot Theatre checks all the boxes. When holiday festivities keep adding on layers of more, more, more, this show gets back to basics. Familiar characters tell a familiar story using creativity and style rather than bling and flash. The combination hits the mark perfectly, and hits the audience in both the funny bone and the heart.


Charlie Brown and friends go through some typical winter activities – skating, throwing snowballs, and decorating before heading to Christmas play practice. Lucy has enlisted Charlie Brown to direct, and the gang is often easily distracted from the task at hand. After a few ups and downs, the friends pull off the show and celebrate their success, the holiday, and their friendship. The story is easy to follow, but kids who have watched the television version may be able to appreciate the characters more.


The cast of eight is so perfectly matched, it seems the characters have jumped from the pages of the comic strip. Ben Wippel’s Charlie Brown demonstrates a balance of struggle and pluck. Snoopy played by Andrew Scott Bullard is often a scene-stealer. Without resorting to crawling, Bullard’s movements emulate Snoopy with an authenticity and joie de vivre. He has one dance sequence that is jaw-droppingly amazing. Afterwards, my thirteen-year old daughter commented how her thighs hurt just watching him. It was indeed quite spectacular. However, the self-proclaimed star of the show is Lucy, played by Sophia Franzella. Her bossy nature, or rather leadership skills, are on full display. Franzella’s combination of sass and smarts provided all the things we love about Lucy. All the actors portray the characters in their original form with their emotions displayed overtly and clearly. It is both comical and helpful for little ones to connect with the characters and how they feel.


Smart and clever choices by the production staff are the hallmark of this show. Tyler Todd Kimmel not only plays Schroeder but also provides the accompaniment to the entire show. One side scene with Lucy reminds us that he is part of the show. The scenic design by Richard Lorig and Mark Lund adapts easily to the different settings of the show. My daughter appreciated how the background was segmented not just to indicate things at different distances but also to appear as cells from a comic strip. After the show, the actors make themselves available for photos, which is quite a treat for the little ones. You won’t get that kind of accessibility with the big shows downtown.


A Charlie Brown Christmas includes all sorts of typical winter activities. However, the play that the characters perform within the play is the Christmas story from the Christian perspective. Children who are unfamiliar with how wise men and shepherds fit into the Christmas story may be a bit confused. However, this part of the show is just a small section and still contains bits of humor that are universally funny.


With a run time of only forty minutes with no intermission, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the perfect option for a first trip to the theater for little ones. The stadium-styled seating is pitched quite steep making for easy viewing from any seat in the house. Parking options include street parking, paid lots, and the occasional free lot.


If your holiday plans have become overly complicated and stressful, this show offers an alternative that is greatly needed for families that want to include a trip to the theater but have neither the budget, time nor patience for downtown. Nestled in the heart of the Greenwood community, Taproot Theatre offers a holiday outing that is all fun and no fuss. Just consider this show Seattle’s gift to young families and enjoy!

 

IF YOU GO:


Where: Taproot Theatre, Isaac Studio 212 N 85th St,  Seattle

When: Now through Dec. 27 @ 11 am, 1:30 pm, 4 pm and 7 pm depending on the day.
Sensory friendly performances on Dec. 2 @ 4 pm and Dec. 9 @ 11 am.

Cost: $25 adults, $15 children ages 12 and under, discount tix for groups of 15 or
more available by calling 206-781- 9708.

Contact: taproottheatre.org or 206-781- 9707


Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based out of Lake Forest Park and the parent
of two teenager budding thespians of her own.

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