Wilmette Theatre’s Charlie Brown a can’t-miss for Chicago families

I have always loved live theater and I am thrilled that I have daughter that feels the same way! We try to go to a few shows a year and last Friday we were finally able to get to the Actors Training Center {ATC} Repertory Company at the Wilmette Theatre for the opening night of It’s Christmas Charlie Brown! ATC offers “professional, process-driven classes for young and adult actors.” This performance was performed by all youth actors and they were stellar.

If you go

It’s Christmas Charlie Brown

ATC at the Wilmette Theatre

1122 Central Ave., Wilmette

Saturday, Dec. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. Tickets are each

847-251-7424

 

This is not the Charlie Brown Christmas you are used to gathering around the TV for once a year. It’s a family-friendly musical that blends the classic tale of the commercialization of Christmas with classic Christmas songs that everyone will recognize. One of the things I love about live theater is how it shows kids that there are different ways to tell the same story. I enjoy seeing their faces as they the watch a story they know, reimagined and told in a different way.

ATC mixes familiar scenes from the cartoon into the show by displaying them on a screen behind the actors with live action and music. Your favorite scenes and lines are still there but they have expanded on them by adding classic Christmas songs too, such as “All I want for Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “ We need a Little Christmas” and a re-imagined “12 Days of Christmas” lead by Lucy.

My kids are experienced with children’s theater and we are regulars at the Marriott Theater for Young Audiences so they were surprised to see kids not much older than themselves performing, and performing so well. Lucy (Colleen Dougherty) in particular was so charismatic and fun to watch, she really pulled the kids into the show. She was able to express so much in her facial expressions you really got the feeling of the Lucy cartoon character on stage.

The Wilmette Theatre is small vintage theater, celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year, located in downtown Wilmette. We arrived early and walked around looking at shop windows and had dinner before the show. The seating is general admission so if you have small children I recommend being ready and in line 15 minutes before show time so that you can get a seat together and near the front. Although in such an intimate theater I’m sure there are hardly any bad seats.

The show ends with the cast coming out into the audience and encouraging everyone to sing along with them. The cast also was standing out in the lobby when we left which is something my daughter loves seeing! This is really a great family show, perfect for Kindergartners on up and perfect first-time theater goers. If it had been at a daytime show I probably would have taken my preschooler as well because she loves musicals, but since there is only one main aisle in and out, I would only bring children you know can sit for the entire show (about 40 minutes).

You have a few more chances to catch the show before it ends for the season, I recommend you get your tickets now and don’t miss it!

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