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Good grief! It’s been 46 years since “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” first brought the “Peanuts” gang to life on the stage. Yet the perpetually young and prematurely mature characters still have as much to say to us as ever, says Jeffrey Parker, director of the version of the show playing at Chattanooga State from March 1-3.
“We all know a Lucy. We all know a Linus. And we all know a Charlie Brown,” says Parker. “These characters are supposed to be little kids, but they have a rich and complex knowledge of the world.”
The subtleties of a character like Lucy, for example, don’t dawn on you until you are an adult. As crabby and bossy as she is, she nurses a forever-unrequited love. And, of course, all the characters are still funny, and still with us every year at Halloween, Christmas and in Met Life commercials, as well as in reruns in newspapers. (Creator Charles Schultz died in 2000.)
Parker notes that he has a special personal connection to the musical. “It made my mother decide that she loved musicals. And I was in the West Coast premiere of the revival in 2001. It seemed like the perfect time to bring it to Chattanooga.”
The Chattanooga State version, which will use the slightly altered revival script and score, will also feature a multi-racial cast and a female Snoopy. “The actors have really done their homework and came in to rehearsals with what their characters are to them,” Parker says. All cast members are either part of Chatt State’s Professional Actor Training Program, or, in two cases, are graduates of it.
The show’s designers have kept the iconic images we all know—Snoopy’s doghouse, Lucy’s roadside psychiatrist stand—but added something fresh, particularly, says Parker, in the case of at least one of the costumes. He also singled out Lindsay Fussell’s choreography as being a highlight of the production.
The Sunday matinee performance will be captioned for hearing-impaired audience members, using the LED electronic captioning board of HLAA Chattanooga Walk4Hearing. “We also hope some of the younger audience members might want to stick around afterwards and meet the characters,” says Parker.
“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” isn’t children’s theatre—it’s multi-generational theatre, he says. “This production of the show reinvigorates it, but is still authentic and true. It’s funny and sweet.” But—there is still that football …
“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”
$10 • 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 3 • 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 3
Humanities Theatre • C.C. Bond Humanities Bldg. • Chattanooga State • 4501 Amnicola Hwy. • (423) 697-3246 • chattanoogastate.edu