With the holiday season just around the corner, the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is gearing up to launch a holiday line-up fun for the whole family.
To start things off, the Overlook Theatre Company will be bringing back a crowd favorite and a character guests of all ages can enjoy, Charlie Brown.
In the musical comedy “You're a Good Man Charlie Brown,” the Overlook Theatre Company's cast takes you to the first day of school for Charlie Brown as he is more determined than ever before to make sure that this year will be the best yet! The play is comprised of little moments picked from all the days of that "block-headed boy," from Valentine's Day to baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair, mixed in with the lives of his friends and his faithful dog, Snoopy.
The play, which will have its first show for the public this Friday, has a 40-member cast that bring the timeless cartoon to life. In addition to characters such as Charlie Brown, played by Samuel Crabtree, Sally, played by Nickki Corbin, and even Snoopy, played by Fred Berger, the whole Peanuts gang comes to life with the help of more than a dozen behind the scenes volunteers working to build the scenes, make the costumes and make sure everything goes to plan.
According to Scotty Corbin, Artistic Director for the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, the cast and crew have been working on this play since the summer. “Costumes and scenery were designed back in the summer and construction began after we had a cast list,” said Corbin. “We had auditions about a month ago and began rehearsals three weeks ago.”
The cast has been working to learn the lyrics to music by Clark Gesner and Andrew Lippa. “The music style is very varied from a Broadway style numbers to jazz to big band — a little bit of everything,” said Corbin.
It won’t be the first time that the Peanuts gang has visited Franklin, according to Corbin. “This is the second time I have produced this show, but the first time in the PAC,” said Corbin.
The artistic view behind the show was tricky compared to other performances because the majority of the actors are adults who play kids, explained Corbin. “In this show all the adults play kids under the age of seven,” he said. “The scenery is all oversized as well as the way the costumes fit to give the illusion that the actors are smaller than they really are. By being on a larger stage, the illusion is pushed even more.”
Crabtree noted it was difficult to get into character because you had to channel your inner child. "Well, this show is done in a way where you aren't really playing the character like a seven year old would be perceived from an adult’s point of view," said Crabtree. "It is more like you are seeing how a child would perceive his life. Going through school, playing baseball and doing all the other activities you do when you are young and how they might interpret those situations in their minds. It's a lot of fun to play these characters though, because we can be a little more over the top seeing as how they come from a cartoon comic strip. It's a fun show for all ages and it will definitely keep the audience entertained."
A great family-friendly show, “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will have stuff everyone can relate to, and may even stir some memories for those who remember the original Peanuts comic strip. “This show is a classic — it takes all the situations of childhood, such as losing your favorite pencil or the big Valentine’s Day party at school and puts them into a perspective of how important those times are for little kids,” said Corbin. “Looking back, you realize those moments aren’t as life altering as you think they are at the time, but back then, it was all a big deal. Plus you have all the humor of the Peanuts. It’s great to see the genius comedy of Charles Shulz and how these characters observe the world though the eyes of a five year old.”
The 65-minute production, which will be performed during the day for school groups and has been made possible through the sponsorship of Della's Daughters, finishes will a great 360 of the play's general theme, said Corbin. “The final number of the show is called ‘Happiness’ and it is a great theme to what these characters represent: Linus is happy to be able to tie his shoes for the first time, Snoopy loves pizza with sausage, Sally likes playing the drum in the school band and Charlie Brown knows happiness can be found in anything at all,” said Corbin. “Even though these are cartoon characters, the simplicity of finding joy in the smallest things around is a wonderful lesson and something each of us should learn to treasure every day.”
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown: The Classic Musical Comedy,” will be presented on Nov. 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each. To purchase tickets for this night of laughs and family fun, visit www.GreatMountainMusic.com or call (866)273-4615.