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'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown': Theatre Victoria's summer musical serves up fun for entire family

By BY ALICE ADAMS - SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
June 27, 2010 at 1:27 a.m.
Updated June 28, 2010 at 1:28 a.m.

Actors perform a scene from "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" opening at the Welder Center on July 23-25 and July 29-31.  Pictured  are Russell Kacer as Charlie Brown, Andy Heger as Linus, Janice McDonald as Lucy, and Taylor Shelly as Sally.

FAST FACTS ABOUT THE PEANUTS GANG

In early cartoons, Charlie Brown's head is less rounded and more football-shaped.

The Peanuts comic strip is considered one of the most culturally influential comics of its time.

The fact that Charlie Brown's baseball team had three girls was at least 10 years ahead of its time.

In his comics, Charles Schulz tackled everything from the Vietnam War to school dress codes and the "new math."

Schulz once said, "There is nothing funny about a little boy being mean to a little girl. That is simply not funny! But there is something funny about a little girl being able to be mean to a little boy."

Schulz's comics touched on religious themes on many occasions, most notably the classic television special "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in 1965, which features the character Linus van Pelt quoting the King James Version of the Bible (Luke 2:8-14) to explain to Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about. (In interviews, Schulz mentioned that Linus represented his spiritual side.)

Many of the Peanuts characters did not appear until a year or more after the comic strip began: Schroeder (May 1951), Lucy (March 1952), Linus (September 1952), Pig Pen (July 1954), Sally (August 1959), Peppermint Patty (August 1966), Woodstock (introduced April 1967, given name in June 1970), Franklin (July 1968) and Marcie (July 1971).

In 1958, the character of Snoopy was introduced. As a member of the Peanuts gang, Snoopy, the dog, could always be counted on to fantasize as he napped and wonder when his next meal might arrive.

IF YOU GO

WHEN: July 23-25 and July 29-31. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

WHERE: Leo J. Welder Center, 214 N. Main St., Victoria

COST: $23 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and $17 for students

You may purchase tickets online at www.theatrevictoria.org, or by calling the box office at 361-570-TKTS (8587)

What could be more fun than joining Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang for a musical adventure the entire family can enjoy, on stage at Theatre Victoria, July 23-25 and July 29-31?

Theatre Victoria, well-known for its outstanding summer musicals, selected "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" for its appeal to the entire family.

"This show has one of the best scores ever written for the Broadway stage," said Charles Moster, theater producing artistic director. "Very much like the sensational "Beauty and the Beast," Charlie Brown has that same wonderful appeal for both adults and kids."

"Peanuts," the creation of the late Charles M. Schulz, began as a comic strip called "Li'l Folks" in 1949, with the characters reflecting much of Schulz's own life. Like his character Charlie Brown, his own father was a barber, and, like many of his characters, Schulz personally experienced disappointments, failures and other childhood hardships.

In all, Schulz drew more than 18,250 comic strips - reaching 75 countries, 2,600 newspapers in 21 languages daily - in close to 50 years.

Peanuts characters eventually made their way from the newspapers' comic section to the live stage in 1969, in the musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Originally opening off-Broadway, it ran for four years and then toured with actor Gary Burghoff, best known as Radar O'Reilly on the long-running TV series "M*A*S*H," as the original Charlie Brown.

In 2002, the play was revived on Broadway and has become the most frequently produced musical in American theater history.

Jeannie Schulz, the cartoonist's wife, once said all the characters in "Peanuts" are parts of her husband. "He's crabby like Lucy, diffident like Charlie Brown. There's a lot of Linus - he's philosophical and wondering about life. Like Schroeder, he loved classical music, though he prefers Brahms to Beethoven. And like Snoopy, he's a war buff."

Schulz, who died in his sleep at age 77 in mid-February 2000, shortly after his final comic strip was drawn, once said, "You can't create humor out of happiness," and he used the hurts of his own life - including the rejection of his marriage proposal by a red-headed girl, who is often mentioned as the object of Charlie Brown's unrequited love, but never depicted in the cartoon.

Starring in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" Theatre Victoria production are Taylor Shelly, Russell Kacer, Andrew Heger, Raymond Yancey, Janice McDonald and Julie Maples.

"When this Tony Award-winning musical opened on Broadway, the story and the music immediately charmed the New York critics and audiences of all ages alike, and this talented cast promises more of the same, " Moster said.

During the show, Charlie Brown goes through a series of adventures with his friends, trying to figure out what "being a good man" really means. Do you know? If not, join the Peanut's gang to find out.

"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," is rated G, and tickets to any of the six performances - beginning at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at Theatre Victoria - are available by calling the box office at 361-570-TKTS (8587) or going online at www.theatrevictoria.org.

Alice Adams is president of Alice Adams Communications in Houston and Austin. She serves as a consultant, co-author, author and editor for numerous projects. She lives in Austin. Contact her at Rtadams2@aol.com.

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