The 'Peanuts' gang comes to life
Even the best relationships have their ups and downs. When Charles Schulz's beloved comic-strip characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown hit a rough patch in "Snoopy: The Musical," the two start to question their long friendship.
The musical comedy, with music by Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady and book by Warren Lockhart, Arthur Whitelaw, and Michael Grace, will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, and Thursday through Friday, June 21-23, and at 1 p.m. Saturdays, June 16 and 23, and Sunday, June 17, at Randall Theatre, 10 E. Third St., Medford.
"Snoopy" is a sequel to "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and focuses more on the life of the precocious beagle. Randall Theatre Company's Artistic Director Robin Downward directs.
In the musical, Snoopy feels he needs something more than what Charlie Brown can give him. Charlie Brown questions why he ever got a dog at all, and both of them start looking for answers away from one another. The other characters — Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Sally and Woodstock — follow suit, searching for something better in life, but ultimately realize that all they really need is each other.
"Snoopy is definitely funny, and the songs are catchy, but the play deals with real issues," Downward says.
The challenge in producing a musical such as this one is finding a balance between the comic elements of the iconic comic strip and the more serious elements in the play, he says.
To help the actors add dimension to their well-known cartoon characters, Downward asked them to give themselves a back story and discuss the psychology behind each of their characters' actions. Though back stories aren't necessarily voiced onstage, it helps actors with characterization. For example, Isaac Cosand, the actor playing Linus, delves into his character's feelings about his parents and his subsequent insecurity.
Downward adds that although this is a kid-friendly show, it is more of a family play than a children's play.
"It's like the comic strip," Downward says. "There are lines from the script that, on one level, are funny to children but have a deeper meaning for adults."
Schulz actually consulted with the playwrights when "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and "Snoopy: The Musical" were created in the '70s.
Despite its serious elements, "Snoopy" is still a musical comedy, Downward says.
"It showcases the wit and quiet knowledge of Schulz," he says. "The show has fun, music and dance numbers but also some emotional numbers. There are silly gags and a lot of heart."
The 7 p.m. Friday, June 15, and 1 p.m. Saturday, June 16, shows are pay-what-you-want. All other tickets cost $20, $15 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at www.randalltheatre.com, by calling 866-967-8167 or at the door.