‘Peanuts’ comes to life in college musical SanTan Sun News

‘Peanuts’ comes to life in college musical

April 6th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
‘Peanuts’ comes to life in college musical
Arts
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By COLLEEN SPARKS, Staff

The lovable blockhead and his famous dog and colorful friends will come to life in a musical next weekend at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

The college is presenting “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” April 26-28 at its Black Box Theater, adjacent to the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center, 2626 E. Pecos Road in Chandler.

The script and score for the musical came about in the 1960s and use the well-known “Peanuts” comic strip by the late Charles M. Schulz.

Audiences can expect to see dramatic scenes, comedy, monologues and songs featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock and other characters popularized in the comic strip and movies and TV specials.

“What you end up having is kind of a mosaic, patchwork of the day in the life of Charlie Brown and Snoopy and Linus and Lucy and Schroeder and (Peppermint) Patty as they struggle with youth and conflict and friendship and beauty and failure and family and it all adds up to ultimately something I think is very beautiful that is reflected in Charlie Brown’s eternal optimism, his willingness to see the best in others,” said director Brian Foley.

Saying Charlie Brown “has a Winnie the Pooh, Zen-like simplicity,” Foley, who teaches theater and film courses at the college, said the seven cast members range in age from age 8 to 30. Some are experienced in theater while others are new.

“It’s tremendously fun,” Foley said. “Everyone has their own individual things to work. There are definitely things that you’ll recognize. This musical was adapted into a cartoon television special called ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.’

“There are some iconic moments: Snoopy transformed to different characters, you’ll recognize Linus and his blanket, Lucy mooning over Schroeder at the piano. There are some other aspects which are new. Some of the other characters delve more deeply into existential philosophy.”

The musical does not “necessarily stress the youth aspect” of the characters, he said.

The show establishes that Charlie Brown is “a little older than 5,” but his exact age is not specified, Foley said.

“It stresses the commonalities of humanity, like insecurity or finding ways to effectively communicate or a certain kind of ego-driven bravado and trying to penetrate that in someone else,” he said, adding:

“They end up talking about philosophy and playing concertos on piano, leaning out of third story windows to catch baseballs. It just becomes a glorious playground where we get to go on this emotional rollercoaster in this fun little comic strip experience.”

Foley said he believes people of all ages, even those too young to have read the “Peanuts” comic strip or seen the TV specials, will appreciate the storyline.

“I think we have character archetypes here,” he said. “We have the passionate musician and the insecure loner and the ego-driven smarty pants and the playful dreamer and the hanger-on.

“All of these are archetypes that audiences can relate to immediately. Even if you didn’t grow up watching the cartoons…you connect quickly and strongly.”

Foley, a theater veteran for nearly 30 years, offered an example of the “Peanuts” gang’s universality. While he was in Toronto recently, he saw a large kiosk with clothes, hats and mugs featuring Snoopy on them being sold.

He said he chooses shows he believes have “educational value” that “will speak well to our audience here at CGSS.”

“I think it leans toward comedy and sweetness and positivity and it will warm your heart if not make you cry tears,” Foley said.

“The tears come from love at the end of this piece. I’ve been listening to this show first on record; then on tape and now on CD and MP3 for the last 30 years of my life. The opportunity to take this show, which in my opinion is a master class in musical theater experience, is a tremendous experience.”

He said audiences “get to support young people as they’re learning and growing as young artists and you get to see a spectacular show. It’s really charming; the songs are wonderful and the scenes are funny and sweet and just adorable.”

The show is at 7:30 p.m. April 26 and April 27 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 28 Tickets: cgc.edu/arts or 480-732-7343.

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