Arts and Entertainment

‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’ is good family fun

Dionne Manos sings the praises of suppertime as Snoopy, while Karissa Abbott understudies in the role of Linus. - Courtesy photo
Dionne Manos sings the praises of suppertime as Snoopy, while Karissa Abbott understudies in the role of Linus.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Imagine living the life of a cartoon character. Imagine how fun it would be to bring that character to life. You can see a talented cast doing just that with the Peanuts gang, at the King’s West Performance Company’s presentation of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, opening Friday, May 4.

“It’s fun, colorful and full of energy and hope,” said director, Peggy Whelan.

Charlie Brown is also full of veteran actors playing down for the first time in their lives.

Good ol’ Charlie himself is played by the most experienced actor in the Performance Company, Jonathan Crabtree. In his eighth show while at the school, the senior recently played Jesus in Godspell.

“My favorite part about playing this role is the challenge of acting 10 years younger than my actual age,” Crabtree said.

“I have to constantly remind myself not to use ‘mature’ mannerisms that I use for older roles. When I played Jesus, I had to find out how to come across as compassionate with my voice and posture. With Charlie Brown I had to learn how to be a little kid, adopt a kid’s posture and fidget. Both were really challenging.”

Ashley Bandara, a freshman, loves playing Charlie’s little sister, Sally. “It’s so much fun acting like a 4-year-old on stage!” Bandara said. “Jumping rope, falling on the ground, dancing, singing and twirling all over the place turns me into a different person.”

Bandara will alternate playing Sally with senior, Elisabet Moseng, as two casts have been formed for the show’s run.

“Many times our Performance Company is too big to do a show with so few characters,” Whelan said. “By double casting all but two roles, this show was perfect. Each actor’s character is highlighted and it’s truly an ensemble piece.”

Wes Murphy, a real life piano virtuoso, joins Crabtree in both casts, playing Schroeder. Murphy is also a senoir. Lucy is played by Lauren Walter, a junior, and Paige Mitchell, a sophomore, and Dusty Henry, a junior, and Allison Kramer, a sophomore play Linus.

If playing a young child is a stretch for these kids, imagine what it’s like for junior Dionne Manos and freshman Melissa Hemry, who play Snoopy.

“Snoopy is the coolest,” Manos said. “He is so random, but whatever he is doing at the moment he really gets into it.”

Hemry really got in touch with her canine side for the role.

“I’ve had to do numerous character studies,” Hemry said, “including watching my own dogs prance about, sit, sleep, etc. It’s definitely not easy to play a dog for two hours and maintain energy and ‘doggyness.’”

“The music is not what you expect,” said musical director Don Pearce, “but really fits what you would imagine each character and their story to sound like.”

The show runs May 4-6 and 11-13, with Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday shows at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. For ticket information contact the school at (360) 377-7700.

“Take your kids,” Manos said, “but it is funny even for adults. It’s the comic strip life, what could be better?”

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