Subtle changes make classic 'Snoopy' relevant for teens today
Charlie Brown texting the kids about baseball practice? Lucy tweeting about her after-school plans?
Fans of the classic Charles M. Schulz comic strip, “Peanuts,” might notice a few subtle changes to some of the recognizable characters in the Theatre Factory's KidWorks season-opening production.
For one thing, yes, some of the kids in the musical comedy carry smartphones, says Jen James of Elizabeth, who is directing “Snoopy the Musical.”
“We've made some simple updates — a way to define the modern kid with their iPhones and selfies. The times they are a changin', but at the core we are still the same,” James says.
Adults who are “kids at heart” play the roles of the comic strip characters at the Trafford theater.
“I felt very strongly that the show should be for kids. It's also extremely difficult for kids to grasp the adult humor. Irony and sarcasm play a huge role in the comedy that define Schulz's world,” the director says.
“It's a fun time for everyone. It's a throwback to our youth while being entertaining, a nice way to reconnect with our families.”
The sequel to the musical, “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” the KidWorks production focuses on the life of Snoopy rather than the rest of Schulz's characters.
Katherine Kerr of Beechview plays the lovable beagle in “Snoopy” and says she's had a fondness for the music from the show since she was a child and always loved “Peanuts.”
“I remember reading the comic strip in the paper with my dad and I loved the holiday specials. These are characters we know and love and to get to embody them is just so much fun,” she says.
Kerr feels there is timelessness to “Peanuts.”
“At the heart of it is the basic human desire to be loved with real struggles along the way,” she says. “The Peanuts kids and Snoopy are all 7 going on 40, so it's fun for kids and adults. And Woodstock is hysterical without saying a word.”
Also in the cast of “Snoopy” are Jacob Grantz of Apollo as Charlie Brown, Alyssa Bruno-Walls of Apollo (Sally), Justin Snyder of Monroeville (Linus), Emily Ann Stephens of Brentwood (Peppermint Patty), Autumn Hadbavny of Wilkinsburg (Lucy), and Jonathan Heinbaugh of Penn Township (Woodstock). Mallory Hayden of Apollo is musical director and Samantha Mitchell of Elizabeth is choreographer.
The KidWorks season will continue with:
March 17-25: “The Velveteen Rabbit”
June 2-10: “Junie B. Jones is NOT a Crook”
Aug. 11-19: “The Jungle Book”
A summer subscription to KidWorks upcoming shows will be available at $20 for three shows.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.