Some of the characters most familiar to readers of the Sunday funny pages will take the stage tomorrow night at the Louisa Arts Center for the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Youngsters aged eight to 18 from Louisa County and the surrounding area will portray Charlie, Snoopy, Linus, Sally, Lucy, Schroeder and the rest of the Peanuts gang in the show, directed by the arts center’s programming director, Meagan DuBois.
The show is adapted from a 1967 musical comedy by Clark Gesner based on cartoonist Charles Schulz’s characters.
“What’s really great about this show is that it feels really timeless,” DuBois said. “We’ve got parents and grandparents who are used to seeing the comic strip in the newspaper. I used to look forward to seeing it when I was a kid. And we’ve got kids as young as eight years old who just learned about Snoopy recently from the movie and had no idea it was from a comic strip. It feels like a show that can cross many generations.”
Connor Michael plays Charlie Brown, with support from Lucy (Veronica Schoenster), Linus (Hurley Lucckese), Sally (Tarran Loveday) and Snoopy (Luke Purcell).
Only about a quarter of the show’s 22-member cast have performed in a theatre production before, DuBois said. Some were introduced to the stage through the arts center’s summer camps.
“To see them progress in such a short time, they came in and were a little unsure of themselves, but you can see in their faces that they’re really able to trust one another,” DuBois said.
Alan Crummette, who is known for his role in the arts center’s lighting and sound booth, also helped with designing the show’s colorful stage set.
“I think people will see set pieces very [similar] to what you would see in Charlie Brown shows [historically], but with a little bit of a modern twist,” DuBois said. “There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into building them. We’re trying things we haven’t in this theatre before. There are a couple surprises in store for people who come to our shows regularly.”
The familiar Peanuts music is performed by Jean DiPiro, who came to the arts center after being involved with youth theatre in Charlottesville. She will also be music director for the spring show The King and I, for which auditions are next week.
Soon after the curtain parts tomorrow, the audience will meet Schroeder at his piano, Snoopy fighting the Red Baron and Lucy at her psychiatrist’s booth. But first they will see Charlie Brown as he flies his ill-fated kite and ponders whether to go sit at lunch with that mysterious little red-haired girl.
“There’s something about this show that everybody can relate to around friendship or having an unrequited Valentine’s Day crush,” DuBois said.