‘Peanuts’ comic strip comes to life at community theatre
If you’ve ever read the comic strips “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz, you find yourself chuckling at the mishaps of Charlie Brown and rooting for him at the same time: whether he can’t get his kite to take flight or he strikes out both in baseball and talking to the little-red-head-girl. He’s the “good man” that many relate to.
In the Carson Valley Community Theater’s new production, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” audience witness the classic comic strip come to life as the Peanut gang convinces Charlie Brown that he is a good man and is well liked.
“It’s a fun hybrid of comics and plays. We really try to capture how the original Charlie Brown comic strips were,” said Cameron Tolbert, 18, who plays Charlie Brown.
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a 1967 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, based on the characters created by cartoonist Schulz. The musical has been a popular choice for amateur theatre productions because of its small cast and simple staging.
“One of my favorite parts of this show has been transforming real life people into cartoon characters, and changing the CVIC hall into a scene from a newspaper comic,” said the production’s stage and musical director Melanie Johnson. “There was a challenge in this that couldn’t have been more fun. From the hand painted costumes to the beautiful new sets we’ve designed for this production.”
In this revised version, with additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and dialogue by Michael Mayer, the sweet, joyful innocence of the Peanuts gang is maintained, but a fresh insouciance and playfulness is revealed.
The whole gang is here: bossy Lucy is hopelessly in love with piano prodigy Schroeder who doesn’t give her the time of day; perfectionist Sally is still mocking blanket-toting Linus; Snoopy is in the doghouse, and “blockhead,” himself, Charlie Brown, is in rare form. Brief vignettes span the months from Valentine’s Day to Beethoven Day, from wild optimism to utter despair.
“Charlie Brown is positive until he can’t hardly stand it. He tries so hard to be happy, but his luck and friends generally get the better of that,” said Tolbert.
The new script features two new songs, particularly funny dialogue, and new, catchy orchestrations.
“I love the song “Suppertime” which was part of the original 1967 show, and I love the two new numbers added for the revival, “Beethoven Day” and “My New Philosophy”, said Johnson. “I personally love the characters, the upbeat feel of the show, and all the numbers.”
Whether you’re keen to fly with the Red Baron, moon over the Moonlight Sonata, or just do your best to find happiness, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a crowd-pleasing classic.
“If you grew up reading the comics like I did, it’ll bring back so many great memories,” said 16-year-old Sklyer Bunn who plays Schroeder. “It also contains such fun songs that everyone will love. This production is just so much fun all around.”
Opening night is 7:30 p.m. Friday at the CVIC Hall, 1602 Esmeralda Avenue, Minden.
Shows continue 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through July 30.
Cost, $16 for seniors and students and $18 for adults in advance, $20 at the door. For more information and tickets call 775-382-2828, email CVCTBoxOffice@gmail.com, or visit carsonvalleycommunitytheatre.org.