Laguna Woods Village’s Old Pros are getting the gang back together — the Peanuts gang that is — for next weekend’s musical premiere of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
This will be the first musical performed on stage by the Old Pros, publicity coordinator Miranda McPhee said.
Charles Schultz’s comic strip depicting a loveable loser, his thrill-seeking beagle Snoopy and the rest of his iconic Americana friends and frenemies turned musical in the late 1960s, now taking its turn on the Laguna Woods Village Performing Arts Center mainstage for the first time.
“I just thought it would be great fun to take old people like us and let them go back to their childhood — or even further, to their babyhood, really,” director Sheila Bialka said.
Bialka thought it would be a kick for an audience to watch senior actors channel the mannerisms and physical nuances of small children, such as a young girl’s twist of the skirt while churning through a thought, wavering vocal inflections and other knocky-kneed imbalances.
“If you look at little kids around 4, 5 or 6 years old, when they walk they stagger — so do we,” she added. “It’s come full circle.”
Though, Bialka admitted, it has been a challenge to help the cast remember their pre-kindergarten ways.
“Trying to have them act like little kids all over again, it’s difficult,” Bialka said. “It doesn’t come natural, even though (we might think) it should be.”
Along with unfamiliar lyrics, untrained singers tackling advanced harmonies and the licensed-bound story barring any creative input, Bialka said this may be one of her most difficult productions to date.
“Charlie” is compiled of 16 songs as guided by musical director Sharone Rosen, doubling as actress for the role of Lucy. Favorites tunes to be anticipated include “Happiness” and “My Blanket and Me,” featuring choreography by Carol Shallin, a five-singer chorus and live piano.
Rookie actor Allan Williams will star as Charlie Brown. Supporting roles include Bill Reed as Linus, Sandy O’Connor as Sally, Eveline Hoffman as Frieda, Mark Hochberg as Schroeder, Karen Elliott-Taylor as Snoopy and Lynne Bradshaw as Woodstock.
The enduring comic strip lasted 50 years in newspapers, and the musical is now in its 52nd year. In all its suffered wit and charm, Brown’s “good grief” lives on through the Village.
“The music is lovely (and) … the script holds up. You can’t help but laugh,” Bialka said. “It really pulls together nicely.”
IF YOU GO
When: 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19
Where: Laguna Woods Village Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $15 and $20 at the box office
Note: The event is for Laguna Woods Village residents and their guests only.
Source: Orange County Register