Belmont Secondary School’s latest Christmas production came as a bit of a surprise to its cast and crew.
Originally, director Sean Cowie had a number of shows on his shortlist, including scenes from Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and others. One day he walked into a music class and a student was playing the Peanuts theme song.
That’s when the idea came to him: why doesn’t Theatre on the Edge put on A Charlie Brown Christmas and the idea has snowballed from there.
“That’s the one we went with. It sort of took over,” said Cowie, who is also a film teacher at the school.
In the show, based on the 1965 animated television special, lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season.
Lucy suggests he direct a neighbourhood Christmas play, but his efforts are ignored and mocked by his peers. After finding out the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown cheers up and the Peanuts gang unites to celebrate the season.
Belmont’s 30-minute version, which stars Ben Armstrong as Charlie Brown, Akasha Zunker as Snoopy and Chloe Gravelle as Sally Brown, includes singing, dancing, five set changes and the integration of images from the original version to accent what’s taking place on stage.
“The spirit of A Charlie Brown Christmas is just so fun,” said Cowie, noting the performance will appeal to a wide audience, from adults in their 40s who grew up watching the TV special to the youngsters just starting to learning about Peanuts.
“It certainly is a tip of the hat to the original, so Snoopy’s doghouse to Lucy’s psychiatric booth, these are all very present. It’s just fun.”
Now, after a month of rehearsals, the 13-person cast is getting set to hit the stage.
“It will be great. The cast is really good, I think we’ll be ready for sure,” said 14-year-old Alexa Baldwin, who plays Violet and grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas during the holidays. “It’s been a really fun experience. I would definitely do it again.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas runs Dec. 11 to 17 (with the exception of Dec. 13) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at the school’s office (3041 Langford Lake Rd), at the door, or online at belmont.web.sd26.bc.ca.