It’s a live Christmas special, Charlie Brown! • Brooklyn Paper

It’s a live Christmas special, Charlie Brown!

Christmas-time is here!: Justin Tyler plays Charlie Brown and his wife, Mollie Vogt-Welch, plays one of the dancing twins in their live production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Dec. 16 and 17.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

This is what Christmas is all about!

The beloved holiday cartoon “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will come to life on stage for the 10th year in a row this weekend, with four performances at Littlefield in Gowanus on Dec. 16 and 17. The producer of the show, who also plays Charlie Brown, said that acting out the 1965 animated holiday classic has become a special annual tradition for the cast and crew.

“It’s become how we celebrate Christmas and the holidays,” said Justin Tyler, who lives in Crown Heights. “It gets us in the holiday spirit.”

Tyler’s wife Mollie Vogt-Welch, who directs the show and plays one of its dancing twins, began the tradition while she was a student at Penn State, and she and Tyler brought the play to Brooklyn when they moved here in 2007.

The cast sticks to the five-decade-old script as closely as possible — including having a live jazz trio play the Vince Guaraldi Trio score on stage, and acting out the quirky limited choreography of the original’s dance scene, said Tyler.

“We do it word for word, and gesture for gesture,” he said.

Every year, the animated adaptation has youngsters and adults alike clapping for their favorite characters. And its poignant and mature story line, in which Charlie Brown and the gang learn the true meaning of Christmas, may be vintage, but it will never get old, said Tyler.

“It’s something that I think kids can really enjoy — it’s the Charlie Brown characters — but also adults, because the Christmas special is strange. Charlie Brown is sort of depressed and going through these things that you wouldn’t normally associate with a kid,” he said. “They just don’t make that kind of television anymore. To really put that on display has really been very fun and funny to us.”

And as the cast celebrates the 10-year anniversary of putting on the show, they are looking forward to the next 10, said Tyler.

“We’ve watched kids grow up, they came as a baby and now they’re 9 or 10 years old. We want to keep doing it for as long as forever,” he said. “Over the course of this, my wife and I got married, we just had a baby, our life keeps changing but this is the one thing that we maintain.”

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Littlefield (635 Sackett St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, www.littlefieldnyc.com). Dec. 16–17 at 1 pm and 3 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Yuletide blues: Justin Tyler and his wife, Mollie Vogt-Welch, have put on a live production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for the last 10 years.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

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