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Holiday classic comes to life on the Norvell Theater stage

Snoopy

Asher Pethel as Snoopy.

By Josh Wainright for PPT

When Charlie Brown becomes discouraged by the materialism of the season, Lucy convinces him to direct the Christmas play. In typical Charlie Brown fashion, things go awry when he selects a tiny fir tree for the production in an attempt to restore the true holiday spirit. It’s up to Linus to save the day and remind everyone of the real meaning of Christmas.

The classic animated television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” comes to life on the Norvell stage next Thursday in a faithful stage adaptation, in which Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts Gang discover the true meaning of Christmas. Piedmont Players Theatre’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was adapted for the stage by Eric Schaeffer and features the iconic jazz score by pianist Vince Guaraldi.

Based on the popular Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson has become an annual broadcast in the United States, and has been aired during the Christmas season traditionally every year since its premiere, becoming the second longest running Christmas special after Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Produced in less than 6 months with a shoestring budget of just $76,000 and despite predictions of failure by network executives, the original special premiered on CBS on Dec. 9, 1965 and was viewed by an estimated 15 million people (approx. 45 percent of people watching TV that night) receiving unanimous critical acclaim. Guaraldi’s soundtrack also achieved commercial success, selling more than four million copies.

The special marked the first time children voiced animated characters and established the half-hour animated special as a television tradition, inspiring the creation of numerous others, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and Frosty the Snowman (1969).

PPT’s version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” features Elijah Carpenter as everyone’s favorite blockhead, with PPT newcomer Asher Pethel as the beloved beagle Snoopy, and Emma Theriot as Lucy. The talented young cast, led by director Reid Leonard and musical director Caroline Stephenson, also includes Clinton Efird, Matthew Lynch, Kelsey Goodman, Anderson Kesler, Sari Lewin, Emma Stamey, Sophie Carter and Mason Rollins.

Beginning next Thursday night, Piedmont Players Theatre invites audiences of all ages to join the Peanuts characters at the Norvell Theater to share the magic of the season and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

Shows dates: Dec. 7-9 and 14-16 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 9, 10 and 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: adults $12, students/seniors $10 at 704-633-5471 or PiedmontPlayers.com

Presented at the Norvell Theater, 135 E. Fisher St.

Producing Partner: Crescent Construction Services.

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