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A packed Alberta Bair Theater, with most of the audience under the age of 12, took in the live stage production, “Charlie Brown Christmas" Wednesday night.

Linus and Lucy in 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

Bossy big sister Lucy intimidates Linus in 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.'

Half the fun of seeing the two-hour show was hearing the children giggle and recite lines with the cast. 

December 9, 1965 - "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

On December 9, 1965, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" debuted on CBS, featuring Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" characters. The TV special has become a popular program around the holidays, with ABC currently holding the broadcast rights.

Other December 9 events in history include the awarding of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, later renamed the Heisman Trophy, for the first time (1935), the famous Kecksburg, Pa. UFO incident (1965) and the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges (2008).

Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz brought Charlie Brown’s self-effacing humor to the masses for five decades, retiring in 1999. The phrase, “Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” is still a big part of our Christmas season. And the meaning behind the humble tree, which is made magnificent through the power of friendship, lives on.

'A Charlie Brown Christmas — Live on Stage'

The challenge when adult actors bring children’s characters to life is that it comes across as forced. The Gershwin Entertainment touring production features talented actors who were able to tap into their inner child without going overboard. They seemed to be having as much fun onstage as the audience had watching the story unfold.

'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

The whole "Peanuts" gang gathers around Charlie Brown's tree in the heartwarming finale of "A Charlie Brown Christmas, Live on Stage," which plays on the Alberta Bair Theater stage Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The live, on-stage band performed the familiar music of composer Vince Guaraldi. Guaraldi wrote the music for the 1965 animated TV special, "Charlie Brown Christmas," and went on to compose scores for 16 more Peanuts TV specials.

Snoopy was a crowd favorite Wednesday with his break-out moments of acrobatics and just plain silliness. The last 20 minutes was a sing-along of traditional carols and a few surprises, including a "Carol of the Bells" performed by the cast using hand bells.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.