News Column

Charlie Brown comes to St. Marys

September 12, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 12--Lucy. Schroeder. Linus. Snoopy. Charlie Brown.

These names trigger fond memories in those who grew up with Charles Schulz's beloved "Peanuts" gang, have heard the jazz piano score for the animated TV show's theme song or have seen the trademark yellow shirt with the single black chevron stripe. While these things may not resonate with some, most residents remember watching Charlie Brown surmount life's challenges in search of that ever-elusive thing called happiness.

Though Charlie Brown is a fictional character who has a knack for being a "wet blanket" (Linus wouldn't like that expression), one thing is for sure: he has a lot of questions.

Share a day in the life of the 'Peanuts' gang as St. Marys Little Theatre takes a walk down memory lane with a lighthearted, musical production of the Tony-award winning, Broadway musical, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," slated for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Theatre by the Trax, 1000 Osbourne Road, St. Marys.

Equipped with a live orchestra from The Friese Studio of Music in St. Marys, Barbara Ryan, founder and chair of St. Marys Little Theatre, says the show will be just as charming and entertaining as the day it took television by storm more than 60 years ago.

"It's based on the intriguing comic strip that has been around for decades and is still popular and enjoyable today. Like the comic strip, (the play) is centered on Charlie Brown and how he maneuvers through a typical day in his life, from trying to fly a kite and trying to kick the football that Lucy pulls away to getting the attention of the little redheaded girl. It's funny and it's a classic storyline that adults love and kids will enjoy, too," Ryan said, adding that this is the first time the organization will perform this production.

The show will capture the essence of early childhood but with some added differences.

"We're taking the original musical and ramping it up a bit. A lot of the characters are over the top and it makes the show that much funnier. It's like Charlie Brown on steroids," Ryan joked.

One of the changes includes a female Schroeder, played by Lisa Allen, owner and choreographer of Lisa Allen's Dance Works.

"Back when I used to watch 'Peanuts,' I just loved Schroeder's facial expressions and how Lucy would be there serenading him with love songs and that was so hilarious to me," Allen said, adding that she has acted in several plays put on by the organization.

She won't be playing her way through one of Beethoven's piano compositions, but Allen says the audience will still get a good kick out of her performance.

"For the adults, it's going to bring back small little memories they may have forgotten and for kids that have never experienced (the 'Peanuts' gang), they're going to enjoy the storyline," Allen said.

It will be the acting debut of some of the actors, including Charlie Porter, who will be playing Charlie Brown.

"I was (initially) there to help people audition for the musical when my sister told the director that I could sing. I went up there for fun and auditioned and surprisingly, I got the lead part," said Porter, a student at Florida State College in Jacksonville.

While acting may not have been a passion of his, Porter, who plans to do more performances in the future, says the play has been fun and has given him a fresh insight into the life of Charlie Brown.

"His ability to question everything has been so interesting to me. Even though he can't seem to do anything right at first, he gets it in the long run, and I think that's true. Even though you can't do everything right, there are things that you can do right that others can't," Porter said, adding that it's the little things that make people unique, including Charlie Brown.

Ryan hopes the production does more than entertain audience members for the moment.

"I hope that when they leave, they're going to start reading the 'Peanuts' comic strips so they'll know the characters and (can reacquaint themselves with the storyline)," Ryan said.

And like Allen and Porter, she also hopes residents appreciate the life lessons that Charlie Brown has to offer.

"I want people to get away from the grind and worries of work, to walk away with a new empathy for people other than themselves, and to get immersed into a character's life. I know it's got to be tough to be Charlie Brown. However, he still has his own charm and good story to tell," Ryan said.

-- Reporter Brittany Tate writes about lifestyle topics. Contact her at btate@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320.

If you go,

Charlie says, "Happiness is anyone and anything that's loved by you." Come show the "Peanuts" gang some "love" as St. Marys Little Theatre brings the musical production, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," to the stage at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Theatre by the Trax, 1000 Osbourne Road, St. Marys. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under, but tickets for groups of 10 or more are $10 per ticket. They can be purchased at Once Upon a Bookseller in downtown St. Marys, On the Green Salon and Day Spa at the entrance to Osprey Cove, Friese Studio of Music at the entrance to Shadowlawn, at the Kingsland Depot, 200 East King Ave. in Kingsland, or by calling 912-729-1103. The show will continue at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 and 21 and at 2 p.m. Sept. 22. Visit www.stmaryslittletheatre.comfor more information.

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(c)2013 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)

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