Arts and Entertainment

‘Peanuts’ comic comes to life in musical

The cast of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” rehearses an opening scene of the musical. Performances of the show will run through Dec. 21.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
The cast of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” rehearses an opening scene of the musical. Performances of the show will run through Dec. 21.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Here comes good ol’ Charlie Brown to the stage.

Experience life with Charlie Brown in song as he ponders the agony of spending lunch time alone, beginning book reports and, of course, working up the courage to meet that little red-headed girl.

The musical follows the comic-strip icon along with the “Peanuts” gang as they face the challenges of ordinary moments with uncertainty, anguish and many laughs.

“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” will run through Dec. 21 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

Under the direction of Elizabeth Herbert, the musical features an all-adult cast to play the six characters. The play features nine songs under the musical direction of Linda McLean.

Herbert said the play was a take on the adult-like qualities of the original characters by Charles Schulz. The musical shows us many things about humanity and children, she said.

“He looks at them as being wise creatures,” Herbert said of Schulz’s work. “They have these issues, these sayings that adults do, but they are still children who have meltdowns. It’s a unique look at children.”

For the cast it’s a physical role as well. Herbert instructed actors to never stop moving on stage— just as a child would.

“I said (to the cast), ‘Children will never walk when they can run.’ ” Herbert said. “It’s physically challenging.”

For lead actor Ryan Saenz, the role was not too far of a stretch in personality. Even before he got the role, his family referred to him as Charlie Brown.

“They say it all the time; it’s the running gag in the family,” he said.

To fully get in character, Saenz pulled characteristics from his own children and watched their interactions.

Herbert said Saenz brings his own take to the character along with a beautiful voice and kind personality.

Other members of the cast studied elementary school students and relied on experiences from their own childhood to play the roles. There was also plenty of candy to get into character during rehearsals.

In one of her favorite moments of the musical, during the song “Beethoven Day,” Herbert said each character’s personality is best on display.

“Each character has a unique personality,” she said. “What they bring to each role is just adorable.”

Savannah True Randall, who plays Sally, said it was exciting to play the role of a child.

True Randall has acted under Herbert’s direction before and said she doesn’t quit when it comes to getting everything ready to perform.

Saenz agreed and said Herbert would make cast members read a sentence 100 times if needed, just to get it right. But in the end the hard work pays off for everyone.

“You know when you laugh a lot it doesn’t feel like work,” True Randall said.

For Herbert, the cast has been wonderful to work with.

“I loved getting up and playing with them,” she said.

The cast also includes Jim Carroll as Snoopy, Jonathan Everridge as Schroeder, Andy Walker as Linus and Karla Crouch as Lucy.

The cast will be in character for conversation and photos before each performance begins.

Tickets cost $17 for youths, $20 for seniors and $24 for adults. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday performances, Sunday performances begin at 2 p.m., through Dec. 21 at WICA, 565 Camano Ave., Langley. On December 15, the show begins at 5 p.m.

 

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