The Attic Theatre hosts classic production, to benefit Free Arts for Abused Children

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Photo by Liz Reinhardt. On the school bus with the Peanuts gang from left: John Devereaux, Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Richie Ferris, Holland Noel, Kristin Towers-Rowles, Matt Steele.

Sustaining Sound Theatre Company, in association with the Chromolume Theatre proudly presents a benefit production of the long-running Tony Award winning classic “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, additional dialogue by Michael Mayer, and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

Robert Towers who was the original voice of Snoopy for the animated special of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” is the Executive Producer and warmly welcomed the audience to this 1999 revival production by sharing stories of his adventures as Snoopy.

All proceeds from this production will be sent to Free Arts For Abused Children, a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide healing and empowerment to victims of child abuse and neglect through creative and innovative arts programming. More information may be found at www.freearts.org.

“This is a unique opportunity to present excellent theatre in an intimate setting while also giving back to those in need in the greater Los Angeles community,” Producer Ryan Rowles states. “What a perfect way to promote the work of Free Arts For Abused Children by giving audiences the opportunity to experience childhood through the eyes or our hero, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Audience members will be both entertained and moved to reach out to those who need a little ‘happiness’ in their life.”

Starting with the imaginative small space staging by director Cate Caplin, musical direction by Jeff Bonhiver, and choreography by Samantha Whidby who also stage manages the production, each of the actors lovingly brings all our favorite Peanuts comic strip characters to life. Set to music in a series of vignettes, “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” chronicles an average day in the life of Charlie Brown (Holland Noel) and his friends Linus (Richie Ferris), Lucy (Dorothy Dillingham Blue), Schroeder (John Devereaux), along with his sister Sally (Kristin Towers-Rowles), and of course his loyal dog Snoopy (Matt Steele). This little show is packed with heart and humor, expressed in the pure and honest simple truths of children, performed by a fun-loving and super energetic cast.

“This is truly an exciting endeavor to create theater of the highest caliber while giving back to those who need help and restoration. The cast and production team include some of the top professionals in the Los Angeles Theater community,” states Kristin Towers- Rowles, the Co-Artistic Director of Sustaining Sound (and granddaughter of MGM star, Kathryn Grayson).

As the plot develops, so does the relationship of the various Peanuts characters. Lucy is infatuated with Schroeder and takes great pleasure in tormenting him about marriage when all he wants to do is play Beethoven on his toy piano. Dorothy Dillingham Blue and John Devereaux are adorable as the mismatched pair, each wearing their innermost thoughts on their expressive faces as Lucy attempts to use her feminine wiles, including her famous lay on the piano move, to get a response from the uninterested Schroeder. When he eventually just gets up and walks away as Lucy prattles on about their future together, Lucy finally acknowledges, “Never discuss marriage with a musician” inciting knowing laughter from the audience and two musicians onstage. Devereaux charms his way through “Beethoven Day” celebrating the birthday of his idol along with his friends. Clever choreography, including a representation of Beethoven being added to Mount Rushmore, had the audience in stitches.

Richie Ferris certainly will remind many of their own childhood, sucking his thumb and clinging to his baby blanket throughout the show as Lucy’s younger brother Linus. This habit instills Lucy with much dismay and embarrassment, causing her to grab it from him, which of course increases his discomfort until he manages to get it back through intellectual reasoning and distraction. As Linus sings and dances his way through the celebratory “My Blanket and Me,” Ferris displays many incredibly funny faces, each one perfectly coordinated with the divergent dance steps suggesting the many ways in which a blanket can be used.

Charlie Brown shares his desire to impress the mysterious little, redheaded girl sitting across the playground, flying a kite, discussing his problems with “the doctor is in” Lucy, attempting to write a book report at school, and hoping his T.E.A.M. can win their next baseball game. Holland Noel certainly brings much lackluster appeal to the kid who thinks of himself as a failure in all he does. When Charlie finally realizes that having friends who think of him as a good man is what happiness is all about, Noel’s warm smile ends the show on a very upbeat note.

Charlie’s sister Sally, lovingly given an innocent Marilyn Monroe persona by Kristin Towers- Rowles, lights up the stage with the joy of wonder and discovery during “My New Philosophy” which of course changes every time another friend’s comment catches her interest with a joyous “I like it!” Towers-Rowles manages to make Sally’s “I’m mad at everything” attitude and challenge of a “C” grade on a tangled hanger artwork project moments of pure childhood anger that pass in an instant when she gets her way. Sally and Snoopy have a grand time “Rabbit Chasing” using almost every type of dance step you can imagine, all performed with great enthusiasm and precision by Towers-Rowles and Matt Steele.

And what joy Matt Steele brings to the much-beloved Snoopy, a dog who lives in his rich imagination chasing “The Red Baron” as he fearlessly dances on top of his red doghouse. But it is his final number, the riotous “Suppertime,” in which Steele shines as he jazz dances up a storm. Each time Steele exits the stage, he shares Snoopy’s egotism with each sweet strut and shake of his behind, letting us know this dog is no one’s fool.

So grab the kids and head over to the Chromolume Theatre at the Attic and enjoy the innocent laughter of children of all ages celebrating the joy of just being children.

“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” runs through Nov. 2 at the Chromolume at The Attic Theatre located at 5429 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles (Culver City adjacent). Performances will take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $28.

Student/Senior/Children are $20. Tickets may be purchased in advance through the Chromolume Theatre box office by calling (323) 205- 1617 or purchasing online at: http://chromolumeinc.com/ zencar t/index.php?main_ page=index&cPath=1_17

The Attic Theatre hosts classic production, to benefit Free Arts for Abused Children