Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Itís a Charlie Brown Christmas

From the strip to the stage, Peanuts gang at the Liberty


By JENNIFER LIEBRUM
Express Staff Writer


Photo by Kirsten Shultz

From the moment R.L. Rowsey tickles the ivories to life with the jingly, jangly, joyously memorable theme song attached to the Charlie Brown holiday specials, visuals of a round-bellied beagle, head tossed back in bliss, toes tapping in time come to mind. Childhood is revisited.
    Company of Fools is reaching out to the inner child and the other kind this month with the musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” under the direction of John Glenn.
    Based on the beloved “Peanuts” comic strip, the musical has the cast dancing and singing their way through memorable moments from the life of Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown and friends from Valentine’s Day to baseball season, optimism to despair.
    The Fools have imported a fabulous cast of enthusiastic young actors, old enough to be nostalgic about the strip, and young enough to convincingly embody each character.
    The gang comes to the Liberty Theatre on Dec. 12 through Dec. 30.


Here is a primer of the characters and cast:

Charlie Brown
is considerate, friendly and polite, but he lacks self-confidence. Even though he doesn’t succeed at much of anything, he always keeps trying.

“He makes such a good everyman. He has something special and all he is waiting for is an opportunity to show it. For his humility he is passed over for greatness. His mantra is it will get better tomorrow,” says actor David Janeski.

Lucy
is bossy, crabby, selfish and loud. She likes to have her own way and always thinks she knows best. She is Linus’ older sister and has a big crush on Schroeder.

“I’m abrasive and bossy so that is not new for me,” jokes actor Audra Honaker. “But she’s also vulnerable, which you see when she caves after Linus tells her he loves her. That makes her really fun to play.”

Schroeder
is reserved, serious and dedicated to his music. He loves all classical music, especially Beethoven. He sees Lucy’s affection mainly as a nuisance.

“I get to make him super fun and soulful, a little gospely,” says actor Norman Payne. “He is so grounded and calm and peaceful. He is what I’d like to be when I grow up.”

Sally
is Charlie Brown’s fun-loving, outspoken and somewhat spoiled little sister. She adores Linus.

“She’s fun to play because you get to find that inner child,” says actor Ali Thibodeau. “She’s innocent but she likes to manipulate authority. It’s fun to revisit that time, like when she tries to get out of a bad grade.”

Linus
is Lucy’s younger brother. He always carries a blanket for security and comfort. He is usually quite mild-mannered, logical and a problem solver.

“He’s delightful, encyclopedic and philosophical,” says actor Colin Israel. “The most fun is when he is white knuckling it through the loss of his blanket.”
Aside: Choreographer Leslie Owens-Harrington is a grown woman with an attachment to an electric blanket that requires its own suitcase when she travels. Losing it, she says, would not be comical.

Snoopy
is Charlie Brown’s pet dog. He is happy and intelligent with a vivid imagination. He often displays more wisdom and human qualities than the people around him. Snoopy loves daydreaming and suppertime.
“He is as fun to play as he is difficult,” says author Chris Carwithen. “The dreamer of the group, he is so much more than a dog. He takes himself so seriously. He invests in his dreams.”


See Snoopy dance
When: Dec. 12-Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
            Dec, 19-Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.
            Dec. 23 at 3 p.m.
            Dec. 26-Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
            Dec. 30 at 3 p.m.
Tickets: Box office at the Liberty Theatre on Hailey’s Main St. or www.companyoffools.org. Prices range from Pay What you Feel on Dec. 12 to $10 for students, $20 for seniors and $30 for adults.




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