Christmas Time is Here, at Taproot Theatre
“Doesn’t anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?”
The beloved holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas has returned to Taproot Theatre. Director Jes Spencer and a talented cast and crew invite Seattleites to step into the family-favorite cartoon, which opened at Taproot’s Isaac Studio Theatre this past weekend. Audience members of all ages are welcome, and hushed commentary and giggles affirmed the youngest patrons’ enjoyment of the show.
The set – co-designed by Richard Lorig and Mark Lund – was quite striking and did a phenomenal job rooting the viewers in the cartoon world of Peanuts. The attention to detail in the background design, Snoopy’s house, Lucy’s psychiatric help stand, the mailbox, Pig Pen’s snowman, the iconic Christmas tree, and everything in between is truly fantastic and allow the commercial stresses of the season to drift from audience members’ minds for 40 minutes.
From the beautiful set to Sara Burch Gordon’s intricate costumes, the production of the play made it wonderfully easy to imagine yourself in the world comics and TV screens allow a distant view of. The costumes and subtleties of the actors’ performances make the audience instantly aware of what character is on stage before even a single word of dialogue is uttered.
Karin Terry’s portrayal of Lucy is particularly noteworthy. The character’s enthusiasm, control tendencies (to word it gently), capitalistic priorities, and humor come to life flawlessly through Terry’s dedication to the role. Each moment Karin Terry is on stage, it’s Lucy’s presence that fills the room. Their delivery of each line and each movement on stage is perfect.
It’s impossible to talk or think about A Charlie Brown Christmas without mentioning Snoopy. This is certainly accurate for this production as well as Keola Kapulani Holt brings each ounce of the adored character’s mischief, lovable nuisance, and comedic timing on stage. Although the human portrayal of a cartoon dog is the biggest suspension of disbelief of this production, Holt all but makes you forget that the iconic cartoon figure is not the one on stage.
Kooper Campbell appeared to be made to play Linus. The subtleties of their performance were so on point it’s hard to pick out specifically what made their portrayal of Linus feel like it just fits. There’s a magnetism about their stage presence that makes you believe Linus’s answer to what the true meaning of Christmas is.
Alegra Batara’s Sally, Chloe Michele’s Frieda, Alexander Kilian’s Pig Pen, and Brad Lo Walker’s Charlie Brown were also wonderful performances. What really helped the show’s magic come to life was Justin Tran’s Schroeder. Although their time on stage was limited, the piano music largely in the background is truly integral to the production’s success. Tran’s musical gift combined beautifully with the clear voices of the other actors and ensured a real treat for the guests’ auditory experience.
Taproot Theatre’s production of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a treat that welcomes the holiday season with open arms. The show runs for approximately 40 minutes, with no intermissions. Ticket prices range from $7 to $32 with a Pay-What-You-Can performance on December 7th. Sensory-friendly performances are available on December 8th and 20th, and Taproot Theatre invites you to dress as your favorite Peanuts character on December 7th. I highly recommend coming to see this show, whether as a family, a nostalgic adult, or a holiday season enthusiast.
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer, by Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson. Taproot Theatre Company, Isaac Studio at Taproot Theatre, 204-85th St. Seattle 98103. Thu Fri 7p, Sat and 12/20-12/23 11a, 1:30p, and 4p til Dec 23. Tickets and Info: https://taproottheatre.org/shows/2023/a-charlie-brown-christmas-2023/. Limited Street parking.