Charlie Brown promises simple wisdom and lots of laughs

Snoopy is in Whitehorse. And she brought her friends. That’s not a typo. In the Guild’s upcoming production of You’re a Good…

Snoopy is in Whitehorse.

And she brought her friends.

That’s not a typo.

In the Guild’s upcoming production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Snoopy is female.

Or at least the Beagle’s played by one.

“The casting was based on who came out,” said artistic director Eric Epstein.

“And who best fit each role.”

With the Canada Winter Games and an actor’s illness in the first season it has been a tough year for the Guild, Epstein said.

That’s why Charlie Brown seemed like a good choice.

Originally the Guild was going to stage Foxy, the Broadway musical that opened at Dawson’s Palace Grand theatre in 1962.

But Epstein couldn’t get the numbers.

“There weren’t enough people coming out,” he said.

Charlie Brown, with its cast of six, is a small musical in comparison.

But it’s got lots of songs, said Epstein.

“The real challenge is the amount of singing and dancing.”

The music is actually trickier than Urinetown’s score, according to bassist Don Bishop.

Charlie Brown’s three-piece ensemble — bass, piano and drums — will be cozied up to the audience during the show.

“But they’re playing very quietly,” said Epstein.

To fit a few more bodies into the Guild’s tiny black box, Epstein rearranged the seats.

Instead of sitting at the back of the theatre, the audience will be seated along one long wall and be tucked in at both ends.

It was the standard configuration for the Guild some 20 years ago, and Epstein has revived it.

“It limits the sightlines, and you’re limited set-wise,” he said.

“But you get more seats and have more audience closer to the action.”

Charlie Brown’s set isn’t that elaborate.

But it’s not supposed to be.

“It’s shaped like a comic strip,” said Epstein.

“It looks like one long panel.”

Snoopy’s red doghouse sits against a green backdrop with one healthy tree painted on the wall.

Off to one side is Schroeder’s tiny piano.

In the wings is a giant pencil, Lucy’s “psychiatric help” booth and the telltale costumes.

“It’s the first real family show we’ve done in a number of years,” said Epstein.

“It’s about some very sophisticated six year olds.”

More a montage of short incidents than a narrative story, Charlie Brown’s focus is “boldness and simplicity.”

“To me comic strips are like haikus,” said Epstein.

“Charlie Brown is a series of short familiar incidents.”

Snoopy takes on the Red Baron, Lucy mis-educates Linus, there’s Linus’ dependence on his blanket and Lucy’s romantic notions for Schroeder.

“At a very young age, these characters were worried about world problems and social problems,” said Epstein, who attributes it to Peanuts creator Charles Schulz’s genius.

“The world of Schulz is sophisticated, dark and largely unsentimental,” he said.

And the strip reflects the characters’ experiences growing up as a baby boomer in an age of anxiety.

Snoopy is largely a carefree Beagle, said Epstein.

“But he still has night fears, terror about the state of the world, and anxiety about whether that round-headed kid will bring him supper.”

Schulz started Peanuts in the 1950s, and the characters “grew up” in the mid-60s in a post nuclear, atomic age, said Epstein.

And the comic reflects this.

“Schulz caught that precariousness of childhood,” said Epstein.

“People are drawn to the familiarity and the issues he deals with.

“I think there’s a bit of Charlie Brown in all of us.”

The production opens Thursday, April 19th at the Guild in Porter Creek and runs Tuesday to Saturday until May 5th.

Shows start at 8 p.m.

There’s an $8 preview on Wednesday April 18th and Wednesday April 25th is pay-what-you-can.

Shows start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are available at the door or at Arts Underground and are $18/$15 Tuesday through Thursday and $20/$18 Friday and Saturday.

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