See live theater for Peanuts

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown (Adam Whitney) tries to raise the courage to talk to “the little red-haired girl” (Taylor Clark) in a rehearsal for <i>You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.</i>

Charlie Brown (Adam Whitney) tries to raise the courage to talk to “the little red-haired girl” (Taylor Clark) in a rehearsal for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Photo By David Robert

At the peak of its 50-year run, Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers and was read by approximately 355 million people. But for most of us, all that matters is that its beloved characters are simply our most adored childhood friends.

Now the most popular comic strip of all time is coming to the stage, as the Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company brings You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown to the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City.

The show, written by Clark Gesner, is an amalgam of scenes from numerous Peanuts strips. It originally debuted off Broadway in 1967 and later appeared on Broadway, where it eventually received two Drama Desk Awards.

It tells the story of a day in the life of Charlie Brown, with such memorable scenes as Lucy and Charlie Brown at the psychiatric booth; Charlie’s musings about the little red-haired girl; Lucy trying desperately to get piano-playing Schroeder’s attention; Charlie flying a troublesome kite; a disappointing baseball game; Lucy persistently teasing Linus about his blanket; and, of course, Snoopy’s adventures as the Red Baron.

The vignettes are portrayed through dialogue, music and dancing. For instance, Linus (played by A.J. Hamann) enjoys a little quality time with his best friend, his blanket, during an extended dance program entitled “My Blanket and Me,” which is where the Vince Guaraldi piano classic “Linus and Lucy” makes an appearance.

Artistic director Stephanie Arrigotti, who both produces and directs this WNMTC performance, says that while the show is extremely family friendly, it’s a rapid-fire comedy that will keep adults laughing, too. She chose the show, she says, because its high level of audience interaction makes it ideal for a small venue like the Brewery Arts Center.

According to Arrigotti, this cast is pretty extraordinary. “I doubt you could find a better cast anywhere, even on Broadway,” she says.

That’s not too far-fetched considering that the lead role of Charlie Brown is played by Adam Whitney, who hails from New York and has performed at Broadway’s Beacon Theater in Dragon Tales Live. Whitney’s uncle, in fact, also played Charlie Brown in the Broadway tour.

Additionally, choreographer Gina Kaskie-Davis danced professionally for 20 years all over the world and has been a choreographer for 15 years. Hamann, who trained in dance at Oklahoma City University, is “one of the best tappers in the region” according to Arrigotti. Caitlin Lawrence Papp (Lucy), a former student of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory and the West Valley Theater in California, teaches singing and acting at Western Nevada Community College. Marcus Quiroga, who plays Snoopy, has danced in numerous Northern Nevada shows and will be heading to auditions on Broadway this July. Plus, orchestral accompaniment is provided by professional musicians from around the region.

While the stats on Peanuts, this show and its cast are impressive, so are those for the WNMTC, which is affiliated with the WNCC and repeatedly has seen audiences of up to 6,000 for its musicals. The company typically performs at the Carson City Community Center and has more than 800 season ticket-holders.

Because of this show’s smaller venue, Arrigotti expects it to sell out quickly.

“This is a well-crafted show, and a truly wonderful picker-upper,” says Arrigotti. “You can’t not enjoy yourself.”