The props are ready for East Valley Academy’s production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," including Lucy’s 5-cent psychiatry booth and Snoopy’s doghouse. But Charlie Brown is still having a tough time remembering his lines.
Such are the last-minute preparations for the charter school’s annual play, which will run Tuesday night. The school’s nearly 30 students — who range from kindergarten to sixth grade — will become the beloved Peanuts characters created more than 50 years ago by cartoonist Charles Schulz.
This year’s play will be performed on the 40th anniversary of its namesake TV movie.
The school’s founders, Janet Stoeppelmann and Ken Ryan, plan to give parents and visitors a brief history of the TV classic before the start of the play. Stoeppelmann adapted the play from the TV movie and added scenes from various comic strips in Schulz’s repertoire.
Taylor Tebbs, 11, says he knows exactly what to do to pull off the character
of Charlie Brown.
"You have to be depressed all the time," Tebbs said "because if you’re not, you’re not Charlie Brown."
Despite practicing with family members since before Thanksgiving, Tebbs says he still doesn’t quite have all of his lines down but is confident he’ll be ready for the performance.
"You have to practice, practice, practice," the sixth-grader said.
The play has not only been fun for the participants, but Ryan says he’s seen a significant change in each child’s personality.
"I don’t think there’s anything that can build more self-confidence than performing in front of a live audience," Ryan said. "It brings them out of their shells."
The boy who plays Woodstock went from "painfully shy" to a little chatterbox, and one child refused to be in the play at first but slowly agreed after seeing his classmates have such a good time, Ryan said.
"The work they put into this is going to help them in academics," Ryan said.
"This is all brain-building activity."
"A Charlie Brown Christmas"
Where: East Valley Academy, 1858 E. Brown Road, Mesa
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday