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'You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown'

Teen Musical Theater of Oregon presents sketches of cartoonist Charles Schulz's beloved characters in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, and 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

The show, a musical adaptation of the enduring comic strip "Peanuts," first appeared on Broadway in 1971 at John Golden Theatre, then again in 1999 at Broadway's Ambassador Theater. Although not originally intended to be a play, the book, music and lyrics were written by Clark Gesner.

While the story was cast for the six original "Peanuts" kids, TMTO's production stars 20 local teens in the six principal roles, along with 14 other Schulz characters, including Woodstock, Violet, Marcie and Peppermint Patty.

The story is a typical day in the life of Charlie Brown (played by Zane Taylor), his lovable pet beagle Snoopy (Isaac Cosand) and good friends, including sister Sally (Christy Wright), blanket-toting Linus (Reid Arthur), bossy Lucy (Kelsey Tidball) and her crush, piano prodigy Schroeder (Daniel McGrath). Like the frames of the comic, the story is presented as a series of vignettes.

"A lot of the comic-strip sections are very clever, and there's a lot of comedy to it," says Doug Ham, who is directing and designing the TMTO show.

The familiar scenes are all there: Lucy helping Charlie kick the football; Lucy and Schroeder at the piano; everybody playing, or at least trying to play, baseball; Charlie trying to fly a kite; and Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse, pretending to be everything but a dog.

Many of the scenes are paired with Gesner's charming score, including such songs as Snoopy's "Suppertime," Linus' "My Blanket and Me" and Sally's "My New Philosophy."

After taking on kites, crushes, misunderstandings and book reports, the show concludes as everyone acknowledges what makes him or her happy in the aptly titled song, "Happiness."

Ham recreates the "Peanuts" setting onstage with simple, one-deminsional set pieces, including a playground, piano, pitcher's mound, mailbox and doghouse.

"I'm trying to make the audience feel like they're looking at the comic strips," Ham says.

Tickets cost $18, $9 for ages 18 and younger, and are available at the Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., Medford; at www.craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

North Medford's Zane Taylor, 17, 'Charlie Brown,' rehearses with the cast of 'You're a Good Man Charlie Brown' at the Rogue Valley Mall Wednesday. - Photo by Jamie Lusch