Charlie Brown discovers Christmas spirit: Students at PMHS help Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Published 1:36 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

As 75 degree temperatures and rolling fog, like a Grinch, threatened to steal the holiday spirit of Picayune last weekend, the first year drama students at Picayune Memorial High School were bringing Christmas back with a joyful retelling of the Christmas classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Under the direction of PMHS drama teacher Bill Rester, this largely student generated production rid our town of a lot of “hum buggin’” for those that had the pleasure to experience it.

Presented at the Picayune Auditorium last Friday night, the student play, based 100 percent on the Charles Schultz television show of the same name, did much to keep the theme of the poignant piece.

Hoping the show would help shake the holiday blues away, Rester empathized with the audience during his introduction. “I know it hasn’t felt like Christmas in the last few days,” he said. He also said in keeping on message with Schultz’s theme of giving back, the students would donate all of the proceeds from the evenings’ performance to a local charity, Christian Care Ministries.

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It would almost seem that most of the school got a chance to participate in the play. Sherry Lawley directed the all female Tidal Rave choir, who sang the show’s theme song, hauntingly sotto voce and in lovely soprano voices. Bailey Hinton, pianist, and Brandon Hutchinson, drummer, skillfully provided the pre-show music, as well as the live accompaniment.

As part of an exam grade for their course work, the Intro. to Theatre students almost completely did everything else to make the event possible. Rester explained that every one of his students would get a chance to shine at some point during that evening. Whether they sold tickets, handed out programs, pulled the curtains, ran the lights, or performed, they each had an opportunity to perform in their own way — thus, purposefully demonstrating the importance of a speech and drama department. Ovation earning performances were delivered by all.

The stellar cast included: Justin Locklear, Pigpen; Cameron Moesta, Charlie Brown; Matt Germenis, Linus Van Pelt; Hannah Nunez, Violet; Caitlin Daniel, Freida; Bryson Witsell, Schroeder; Jana Barkley, Lucy Van Pelt; Kaden Ladner, Snoopy; Amber Thonn, Sally Brown; JaMarkus Stacks, Shermy and Kayleigh Doyle and Kristina Pomar, Peanuts. Each of them was surprisingly able to wear the familiar TV character like a second skin while radiating their own unique personalities.

Brilliant in its simplicity, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” reminds everyone of the true meaning of the season. Experiencing the holiday blues, Charlie Brown looks to his friends to help him rediscover his “Christmas Spirit.” Linus’ endearing biblical story of Christmas helps snap Charlie Brown out of his funk.

After the brief Christmas break, the PMHS drama students will be able to audition the first week in January for roles in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical version of “Cinderella,” scheduled to be performed in March. They are also planning to do both the male and female versions of “The Odd Couple,” on alternate nights, in April.