'Peanuts' at AHS

Charlie Brown — along with all the characters from cartoonist Charles M. Schulz's perpetually running comic strip, "Peanuts" — is coming to Ashland High School.

It's "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," the Broadway musical created by Clark M. Gesner based on Schulz's comic strip. Shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 2-4; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5; 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 9-11; and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 11-12.

Doug Ham, Ashland High School's resident theater designer, directs.

Gesner's show features a typical day in the life of six of Schulz's characters — Charlie Brown, his lovable beagle Snoopy, the irascible Lucy; the piano-playing Schroeder, Linus with his ever-present blanket, and Charlie Brown's younger sister, Sally. Ham adds vignettes for 13 additional characters, gleaned from vintage Schulz strips.

"I find that everyone has a favorite character that appeared only once in a while in the strip," Ham says. "I wanted to recreate that nostalgia that people feel for the comic strip."

"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" features Mason McLellan (Charlie Brown), Lisa-Marie Werfel (Lucy), Jackson Richmond (Linus), Braedon Bell (Schroeder), Josette Saydah (Sally) and Noah Wertheiser (Snoopy).

The additional "Peanuts" characters are Rerun (Andrea Koell), Pigpen (Tallon Shults), Woodstock (Rosemarie Caruso), Peppermint Patty (Katie Cook), Marci (Zoey Petrone), Shermy (Scotty Gordon), Violet (Amelia Sorenson), Patty (Christine Impara), Naomi (Corrine Maddox), Peggy Jean (Ceili Widmann), Freida (Madison Gilpin), Charlotte Braun (Rebecca Wasche) and Lydia (Bronte Kennedy).

"I've made every character distinctive and immediately identifiable," says Ham. "Through costuming, they will look just like the kids in 'Peanuts.'"

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" opened off-Broadway in 1967, became an instant hit and played for 1,597 performances. In 1985, CBS aired an animated version of the show which became a classic. A Broadway revival appeared in 1998 with additional songs and dialogue.

Ham's scenic design features all the familiar "Peanuts" landmarks — Snoopy's doghouse, Charlie Brown's mailbox, Schroeder's piano and Lucy's psychology booth — using large one-dimensional cutouts. There is even the dreaded school bus.

Jennifer Schloming is voice and music director, Audrey Flint choreographs, David Pedersen is co-technical director and set carpenter, Ellen Alfonso is costume designer and Bart Grady is lighting and co-technical director. Stage manager is Skye Gordon, assisted by Isabeau Kennedy and Sophia Green.

Ham has worked with AHS' theater program for 10 years. As theater manager and designer, he has directed the school's productions of "Ah, Wilderness," "Spoon River Anthology" and "The Importance of Being Earnest."

Tickets cost $15, $10 for students and seniors and can be purchased at Paddington Station, Tree House Books, Music Coop, online at www.showtix4u.com or by calling 866-967-8167. Reserved seating costs $20 and can be purchased at www.showtix4u.com.

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