published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

‘Peanuts’ characters still resonate in ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’

Paige Salter, as Snoopy, right, exhorts about "Suppertime" with Bobby Burkich, as Charlie Brown, in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Paige Salter, as Snoopy, right, exhorts about "Suppertime" with Bobby Burkich, as Charlie Brown, in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
IF YOU GO

What: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, and Saturday,March 2; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3

Where: Humanities Theatre, Chattanooga State Community College, 4501 Amnicola Highway

Admission: $10 adults, $5 children under 12

Phone: 423-697-3246

Chances are, a serious, philosophic Charlie Brown is your best friend. Or you work for a blustery, self-righteous boss like Lucy.

Thirteen years after the death of cartoonist Charles Schulz and the end of the original “Peanuts” comic strip, the characters still populate the television airwaves, greeting-card aisles and Metropolitan Life Insurance ads.

That’s also why “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” the 1967 musical featuring the comic-strip characters, still resonates, according to Jeffrey Parker, who directs the show to be presented Friday through Sunday, March 1-3, at Chattanooga State Community College.

“As a kid, I really liked Snoopy,” he said. “He was funny and charming. As an adult, you identify on a different level. Until I grew up, I didn’t realize how universal the show was.”

Parker played Snoopy in the West Coast premiere of the 1999 revival in Los Angeles and then reprised the role a year later in San Diego. The Chattanooga State production is Parker’s third as director of the musical.

“It’s different every single time,” he said.

Parker said the 1999 facelifted version of the musical added new songs, changed vocal arrangements and cut out jokes that weren’t working. Yet, audiences still will see staples such as Lucy’s psychiatric booth and Snoopy’s doghouse.

“Because the characters are so universal,” he said, “actors find different ways into these characters.”

Local choreographer Lindsay Fussell, according to Parker, has made the production “more dynamic and active” than any version of the musical he’s been associated with.

The group numbers are more interesting, he said, and Fussell and actor Paige Salter have made Snoopy’s “Suppertime” song a “virtuosity.” Audiences will be “delighted and surprised by” another “big, new addition” he didn’t want to reveal.

While the songs are not pop standards, Parker said, they’re nevertheless memorable. And the two tunes added in the 1999 revival, “Beethoven Day,” sung by Schroeder, and “My New Philosophy,” sung by Sally, are “crowd pleasers,” he said.

Jennifer Arbogast is musical director for the production.

Parker said “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is “truly an all-ages musical.”

“The material is accessible, the actors are topnotch. There’s really a lively, unique voice to it. I don’t think I’m alone in enjoying these characters. It always makes me smile in seeing this show being put up.”

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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