Three long-time holiday favorites are getting a new life this season – one with a live on-stage production of an animated TV special, one with an all-new streaming puppet film, and one with an updated virtual sequel to a 19th-century classic.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage – Charles M. Schulz’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning story has been a longstanding annual tradition since it first aired on television over 50 years ago. Now, Eric Schaeffer’s live stage adaptation of the family-friendly animated TV special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson brings all your favorite characters to life, as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang journey to uncover the true meaning of Christmas. Before making its NYC premiere at The Palladium Times Square on Tuesday, December 21, the show will play an engagement through Sunday, December 19, in Westchester County at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center (480 N. Bedford Road, Chappaqua, NY).
The new theatrical version, produced by Gershwin Entertainment and directed by Robert Coulson, employs both the familiar dialogue from TV and the classic score by Vince Guaraldi, while incorporating original choreography by Charlotte Bydwell, music supervision and additional arrangements by Garrett Taylor, scenic design by Adam Koch Associates, costumes by Jeffrey Meek, lighting by Nathan Scheuer, and sound by Josh Samuels.
The cast features Connor Barr as Charlie Brown, Will Jewett as Snoopy, Leah Windahl as Lucy, D’Marreon Alexander as Linus, Giuliana Augello as Violet, Sophia Delucchi as Sally Brown, Andrew Hainz as Pigpen, Brent C. Mauldin as Schroeder, Lucy Rhoades as Frieda, Elliot Wallace as Shermy, and Emma T. Wilcox as Patty, with Chloe Gabila and Sam Sanderson rounding out the ensemble. After their final bow, the audience is invited to join with them in the singing of traditional Christmas songs and carols.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage plays December 21-24, 2021, at The Palladium Times Square, 1515 Broadway, NYC. For tickets, starting at $25, go online. All audience members must present proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test taken 48-72 hours prior to the event date, in order to enter the venue and to attend the show. Masks should be worn inside.
Paddington Saves Christmas – For more than 60 years, British-born writer Michael Bond has delighted readers the world over with his children’s books about Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear from Peru, whose stories of kindness and humor appeal to all ages and have ensured his popularity from one generation to the next. His adventures have been adapted several times for television, and beginning in 2014, Paddington made his debut on the big screen.
This season, in association with The Copyrights Group and StudioCanal, Rockefeller Studios presents a special holiday event starring the beloved bear, inspired by Rockefeller’s own highly acclaimed 2020 stage production Paddington Gets in A Jam. Streaming in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand through January 4, 2022, this unique holiday puppet performance is the first virtual production created by Rockefeller Studios, marking Rockefeller’s expansion into filmed content.
In the new 35-minute work, Paddington’s ever-grumpy neighbor Mr. Curry is panicking in anticipation of the arrival of an important visitor for the holidays, so he volunteers to help Mr. Curry prepare his house for Christmas. But in typical Paddington fashion, his good intentions lead precipitously from one predicament to the next!
Paddington Saves Christmas is available through Tuesday, January 4, 2022, from Rockefeller Productions, streaming on Broadway on Demand and Marquee TV. Viewing prices vary, based on subscription or rental.
Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol with a Twist – A modern-day take on Charles Dickens’ beloved 1843 novella, incorporating additional characters and plot lines from Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, and other of his novels, this virtual cinematic musical-theater adventure, which premiered in 2020, was planned and digitally captured during the pandemic. Utilizing the cutting-edge technology of a green screen, hundreds of images, animations, and digital environments were blended in post-production with the performance footage of the actors, to bring the story magically to life in a two-hour hybrid of theater and film.
In the new narrative by Tony Award winner John Caird (book and direction) and Tony nominee Paul Gordon (book, music, and lyrics), Estella Scrooge, the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Ebenezer, is a young Wall Street tycoon with a penchant for foreclosing. When a hotelier in her hometown of Pickwick, Ohio, has defaulted on his mortgage, she goes to Harthouse personally on Christmas Eve to take possession. Upon arrival, she discovers that the defaulting party is her childhood sweetheart Pip Nickleby, a generous soul who has transformed the property into a refuge for the sick, dispossessed, and homeless. A freak snowstorm that night forces Estella to take refuge there, and as was the case with her ancestor Ebenezer, she is haunted by three ghostly visitations that show her the value of goodness.
A 2021 Telly Award Winner, honoring excellence in video and television across all screens, Estella Scrooge features a roster of Broadway stars, including Betsy Wolfe (Waitress) in the titular role, Clifton Duncan (The Play That Goes Wrong) as Pip, 2020 Tony Award winners Lauren Patten (Jagged Little Pill) as Dawkins and Danny Burstein (Moulin Rouge! The Musical) as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Tony nominees Patrick Page (Hadestown) as Mr. Merdle and Carolee Carmello (Parade) as Marla Havisham. The cast is supported by a top design team, with musical supervision by Brad Haak, choreography by Natalie Lomonte, costumes by Somie Pak, hair and makeup by Dena Olivieri, props by Katherine White, and production art by Zach Wilson, with Tyler Milliron serving as director of photography and editor.
Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol with a Twist is available through Monday, January 31, 2022, streaming on Broadway on Demand and Streaming Musicals (priced at $14.99 to rent for 48 hours, or $29.99 to buy).
You can watch the official trailer here: