WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Peanuts fan Tim McDermott, of Scranton, has watched the animated TV special about a not-so-popular little boy, a forlorn tree and the true meaning of Christmas so many times, he even knows the exact time Charlie Brown’s younger sister, Sally, gives a tiny hiccup.
Sure enough, in the stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which McDermott is directing for Gaslight Theatre Dec. 1 through 9, McDermott makes sure actor Mollie Dooley, of Kingston, includes that tiny pause at just the right moment, when Sally is talking to her brother about her Christmas list.
“The entire script is verbatim,” said McDermott, who grew up loving the show.
Other fans of the perennial classic will no doubt be delighted to hear the familiar lines, and to see how well the cast of adults imitates the unusual way the members of the cartoon Peanuts gang dance as they prepare for their Christmas pageant.
“I kind of do the zombie dance, the zombie shuffle,” said Mike Wawrzynek, of Scranton, who describes his character as “Shermy, the forgotten Peanut” and dances with his arms held straight out in front of his torso, just like the cartoon version.
As Linus, Héctor González, of Peckville, kicks in place and swings his blanket during the dancing scenes, and, as Peppermint Patty, Lindsey Matylewicz, of Scranton, hops from side to side.
Meanwhile, as Violet, Alicia Nordstrom, of Hazleton, repeatedly punches the air.
“I have the uppercut,” Nordstrom said with a laugh.
While a live jazz trio of Doug Delescavage, Ian O’Hara, and Rob Burns will actually provide the lively music, younger audience members may get the idea the music is really coming from Eric Lutz, of Scranton, as Pig Pen on bass; Jonathan Wallace, of Trucksville, as Schroeder on piano; and Kimmie Leff, of Olyphant, as Snoopy on guitar.
Snoopy should get a lot of laughs in the show, as he decorates his dog house, spins Linus and his blanket around a frozen pond, and kisses Lucy until she hollers for iodine. Snoopy also agrees to portray all the animals in the Christmas pageant.
“I’m getting lots of interesting looks from my dogs at home,” Leff said, admitting they’ve heard her practicing animal sounds.
The show lasts about half an hour, just like the TV special, but audience members are welcome to come to Gaslight Theatre an hour before each performance (except for the final one on Dec. 9) to experience Pinetree Corners.
Pinetree Corners is a setting that gives children a chance to make holiday crafts, drink hot chocolate and sit on Santa’s lap.
And the show promises to include just about everything fans remember about the animated special, from Lucy’s joy in receiving a nickel for her psychiatric advice to Linus’ request for “Lights, please” just before he recites Luke 2:8-14.