News Column

WordPlayers presents 'You're A Good Man Charlie Brown' [News Sentinel]

June 8, 2013

YellowBrix

Doug James pauses for a few moments as he thinks. Then he answers the question. What is the point of the musical "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown?"

"It's love," he says after a brief contemplation.

James is directing The WordPlayers' production of the play based on Charles Schultz's iconic, beloved comic characters. The show opens Friday, June 14, at The WordPlayers' Theatre at Middlebrook Christian Ministries, 1540 Robinson Road, Knoxville.

The play, James says, "is about when you are down and out and you think that you can't do anything right. Like Charlie Brown can't land the girl, can't fly a kite, doesn't get a Valentine . That when you think there's no way you can deal with what is going on and then you absolutely stop all the worry and just look around you, there is happiness on every corner."

With six adult actors, more than 80 props and numerous songs, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" follows Charlie as he spends a day pondering the meaning of life. The play incorporates many of the iconic moments from Charlie Brown's life, including his dismal efforts at kite-flying and his crush on that "Little Red-Haired Girl."

Charlie is played by Braxton Chase Kiser. Other characters are the blanket-carrying Linus (Matthew Lloyd), Charlie's younger sister Sally (Sheryl Lawrence Howard), the powerful personality of Lucy (Jeannine Brown), young musical genius Schroeder (Michael Brown) and Charlie's dog and Red Baron-fighting pilot Snoopy (Spencer Streno).

The show is recommended for ages 5 and older. James said it is a production with humor that appeals to both children and adults.

The set by Jeff Delaney was created to give the feeling that the play's actions are set against the background of a printed newspaper. "My concept with the set is that it all looks like a comic strip," James said. The set's background incorporates black- and-white sketched outlines of play locations while other pieces like Snoopy's doghouse get three-dimensional treatment. The costumes also offer a comic book feel. All the costumes were sewn from white fabric and were then painted so that they appear to have been colored in "so that it looks like a cartoon come to life," said James.

"You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" is the second consecutive summer musical produced by The WordPlayers, a local group of Christian theater artists. Last year the company presented the large- cast musical "Ragtime."

Shows for "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" are 7:30 p.m. June 14- 15 and June 20-22 with 2:30 p.m. matinees June 16 and June 23.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students age 18 and older or senior citizens age 65 and older; $10 for young people ages 10-17, $6 for children under 12. Thursday, June 20 is Pay What You Can Night. Tickets are at www.wordplayers.org or at the door.

Playgoers are asked to bring a donation for the charity Project Linus in East Tennessee, an organization that offers new, homemade blankets to seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need children. Playgoers are asked to give a donation, a skein of washable yarn or an item from the project's wish list at www.projectlinuseasttn.org.

'You're A Good Man Charlie Brown'

What: Musical based on 'Peanuts" characters

Where: WordPlayers' Theatre at Middlebrook Christian Ministries, 1540 Robinson Road, Knoxville.

When: 7:30 p.m. June 14-15, June 20-22;2:30 p.m. June 16 & June 23.

Tickets: $15 adults, $12 age 18 & older or senior citizens age 65 & older, $10 ages 10-17, $6 under age 12. Thursday, June 20 is Pay What You Can Night. Tickets at www.wordplayers.org or at the door.

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