November 2021 The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre proudly presents a return to in-person shows this holiday season. I spoke with some of the cast members from both shows on what it means to return to the stage and live audiences as well as why they chose to work with the Civic’s remarkable staff. Two Holiday Classics: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Elf the Musical” The classic animated television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” comes to life in this faithful stage adaptation in which Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts Gang discover the true meaning of Christmas. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was first shown as an animated television special in 1965 and has been part of the holiday tradition ever since. The stage adaptation was completed in 2013. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is running Nov. 26–Dec. 18. Based on the cherished 2003 New Line Cinema hit, “Elf the Musical” features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (“Disney's Aladdin” on Broadway, “The Wedding Singer”), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (“Annie,” “The Producers,” “Hairspray”) and Bob Martin (“The Drowsy Chaperone”). Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh realities that his father is on the naughty list and his half brother doesn't even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. “Elf the Musical” is running from Dec. 3–24. Cast and Crew Members Are Elated to Be Back! I asked several of the leading cast members—many of which are reprising their roles in “Elf”—what it means to be back at Civic and why people should attend these outstanding holiday shows. “Santa” - Parrish Williams: It is so important to have that communal sense of togetherness. This show is definitely joyful, and the reason why I chose to reprise the role is that very fact. It’s going to bring a lot of joy and happiness to a lot of people. “Jovie” - Emily Bohannon: I would love for people to come and celebrate the return of live theater with us. “Elf” is crazy and wacky, but it’s a really important message that features a blended family and people coming together despite their differences and receiving and giving love. “Macy's Manager” - Jonathan Studdard: Theater is a good escape from everyday life and things that stress us out. I think connecting to people is huge right now, and it’s exciting to be back to live theater. We hope that we bring smiles to people’s faces and make them feel warm. “Buddy” - Matt Bays: The show and the joy that it brings to people is one of the reasons why I chose to work with Civic. The people who are grinches and scrooges are just s*** out of luck because it is kind of impossible to leave this show and not be happy. The prep and the dedication to excellence at the Civic allows us to do our jobs at a higher level, and their expectations are high for community theater and I love that! “Lucy” - Mikayla Koharchik: This is the third time I’ve played “Lucy.” I love Lucy—she’s just so over-the-top and obnoxious, and I get to let loose and be like a little kid. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is that quintessential Christmas show that every generation loves. I cannot wait for my kids and others to see live theater again. “Snoopy” - Evan Wallace: I would imagine that this show will be a lot of kids’ first time either interacting with this show or getting to experience live shows. What better place than the theater to come together with our families and our communities? It’s time for people to come back home . “Frieda” - Alex Warfield: I was very excited when I got the message to come and join the cast. This show hits close to home for a lot of people. It has a really great message about not focusing so much on the gift giving and decorations but on spending time with your family and making sure that the focus stays on the birth of Jesus Christ. “Charlie Brown” - Max McCreary: What we noticed as a team in our first read through was how “adult” some of these conversations these kids have are. The speak like kids pretending to be adults, so there’s this sense of purity of youth and in how children see adults. In that moment when the tree comes out, we see the effort his classmates and the people in his life put into that moment to try something different and to give him, Charlie Brown, the benefit of the doubt, if only for that one time. It’s time to start or to continue the holiday tradition of live theater shows at the Civic! Get your tickets to one or BOTH of these spectacular shows! Ticket information and show times are posted at thecenterpresents.org.