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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.

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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