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SNOOPY!!! THE MUSICAL

Music by Larry Grossman
Lyrics by Hal Hackaday
Book by Warren Lockhart, Arthur Whitelaw, and Michael Grace
Based on the Charles M. Schulz comic str

Denton Community Theatre

Director: Clay White
Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Alex Rodriguez
Assistant Stage Manager: Brad Wheeler
Music Director: Michael Rausch
Choreographer: Anne Black-Scalf
Producers: Francie Pavelek, Donna Trammel
Set Design: Clay White, Alex Rodriguez
Master Carpenter: Mike Strecher
Lighting Design: Elizabeth Lambert
Light Board Operator: Alex Holland
Sound Board Operator: Michael Ramey
Follow-Spot Operator: Phillip Stachelski
Costume Coordinator: Clay White
Makeup Design: Julie Brinker
T-Shirt Design: Justin Harmon
Promotional Design: Mike Strecher

ORCHESTRA

Conductor: Michael Rausch
Piano: Jon Rosseman
Keyboard: Alec Bart
Drums: Brad Hawkins
Guitar: Alex Lopez
Bass: Sara Bollinger

CAST

Lucie van Pelt: Katie Moyes Williams
Peppermint Patty: Mandy Rausch
Woodstock: Jessica Gibson
Charlie Brown: Cody Martin
Sally Brown: Whitney West
Linus van Pelt: Tob


Reviewed Performance: 4/17/2011

Reviewed by Ashlea Palladino, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

There are certain memories from childhood indelibly imprinted in our brains, and the theme from the Peanuts cartoons is on that list for me. Turning human beings into cartoons is one thing, but bringing cartoon characters to life ? including a dog and a yellow bird ? is an altogether different undertaking.

Denton Community Theatre has taken on this task with their production of Snoopy!!! The Musical (now running through April 24th at The Campus Theatre in Denton). Snoopy!!! is the sequel to You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, but it focuses more on Charlie's beloved beagle. Snoopy deserves top billing in this show, although the Peanuts Gang is present and accounted for.

Director Clay White assembled a marvelous cast of seven actors to portray the characters we all know so well. Mr. White also gathered a six-piece orchestra that, under the musical direction of Michael Rausch, brought some familiar stories and themes to life (sadly, though, the Peanuts theme was absent from this production).

The orchestra was situated stage right during the show, and it was nice to actually be able to see them as well as hear them. Since the orchestra was in plain view of the audience, I wish the production team had taken the opportunity to integrate the musicians' clothing into the story line or set. As it was, all orchestra members were dressed rather casually in their own clothes, and it distracted me a bit from the rest of the staged action.

The Campus Theatre is a lovely venue, and every inch of the stage was utilized well. Lighting, sound and costume design flowed together nicely, though the microphones were definitely not loud enough. I had a difficult time understanding the words in several songs, and the audience heard static when Snoopy and some of the other characters performed on the stage floor.

The set was perfect for this show. Snoopy's iconic red doghouse was the centerpiece, with Charlie Brown's house to its right, Lucy's advice kiosk to its left, and a large, moss-covered tree even farther stage left. My favorite part of the set was the large blocks the cast members used for various purposes throughout the show. One side of each block was painted a solid shade of yellow, pink, blue, green or red to match the representative color of each character.

Another side of each block was painted with pumpkins for Linus's Great Pumpkin scene, and yet another side was painted to resemble bricks, so that when the blocks were put together, the stage transformed to another setting. The blocks were also functional in that the actors kept props inside them.

As an ensemble, this group of seven actors was well-synced and well-rehearsed. There were several opportunities for the actors to bump or stumble into each other during group songs using their blocks and other props, but the actors knew exactly where they were headed and the best routes to take to get there.

Anne Black-Scalf's choreography was as clever and fun as any I've seen in this type of show. Is it wrong to admit how excited I became when I saw roller skates on the actors' feet? Not only did I get some roller skating, I also got tap dancing! Ms. Black-Scalf integrated the blocks and the tap dancing into the choreography for "When Do the Good Things Start," and the result was sheer happiness for me.

My favorite thing about this show was that the characters were instantly recognizable. Mr. White's costume designs were the largest contributing factor to this recognition, other than the actors' portrayals. From Charlie Brown's yellow shirt, to Linus' blanket, to Snoopy's collar, the costumes were spot on.

Katie Moyes Williams was perfect as the idealistic, semi-snotty Lucy van Pelt, and Whitney West was bubbly and amiable as the pretty-in-pink Sally Brown. Tobyas Meeks gave us charming and innocent as Linus, the boy who refuses to give up his baby blanket, and Cody Martin pulled off bashful and reserved as Snoopy's owner. Mandy Rausch was hysterical as the gregarious, slightly ornery Peppermint Patty, but she also showed us Patty's softer side during "Poor Sweet Baby."

Jessica Gibson, as Woodstock, was the only character without any lines, but what she lacked in verbal expression she made up for in overall presence. From the canary yellow face paint, to the fantastic feathered headpiece, Ms. Gibson's look and lithe movements personified Snoopy's avian friend.

Joanna Cawthon played the titular Snoopy, and I loved the way Mr. White modernized the standard idea of a dog suit for her. Clad in a white athletic suit, a white backwards-facing baseball cap, and black Converse sneakers, Ms. Cawthon made Snoopy a little hipper, but just as sarcastic and bossy.

The voices of all seven actors were top notch. I thoroughly enjoyed Mandy Rausch's "Hurry Up Face," as well as Joanna Cawthon's "The Big Bow-Wow," but the group songs and the harmony were what made the show for me. All of the "children" were hilarious during "Edgar Allen Poe," and Peppermint Patty, Lucy and Sally blended flawlessly during "I Know Now."

This show is definitely recommended for children, but that doesn't mean you have to have children, or that you have to be a child to see it ? it just means you have to unleash your inner child for a couple of hours!

Snoopy!!! The Musical
Denton Community Theatre at The Campus Theatre
214 W. Hickory Street, Denton, TX 76201
Through April 24th

Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm
Sunday matinee at 2:00pm

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (62+), and $10 for students/children

Go to www.dentoncommunitytheatre.com or call 940-382-1915
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