Saturday, August 1, 2015
The Peanuts comic strip meets Reality in “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” at the Footlight Theatre Orlando, Fl. The show is, an "unauthorized parody" written by Bert V. Royal and directed by David Lee, opening at the Footlight Theatre, (410 North Orange Blossom Trail Orlando, Florida). It imagines the characters from Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts’ characters 10 years later as angst fueled teenagers. But this is no comic strip! Their names have been altered a bit but all of the characters and back story are easy to identify.
“CB”, aka Charlie Brown, (Christopher Walen) as lost his beloved dog and is struggling with existential questions of life and death and sexual identity. Piano-playing “Schroeder” is now the bullied and ostracized “Beethoven.” (Chris Metz) Matt, the “Pigpen” character, (Campbell Gilliland) is now a homophobic germophobe, “Sally” (Madeleine Elise) has gone goth and “Linus” is a Buddhist stoner (Zachary Lane). Lucy, (Rachel Comeau) once the nickel psychologist, is a feisty pyromaniac who’s been sent off to an institution. The gang grapples with teenage realities of drug use, suicide, eating disorders, bullying, rebellion, and sexual identity, wrapped in skewered, funny, and poignant twists.
To find the rehearsal at the Parliament house, David Lee told me to walk past the back bar. I spotted an actress taking the same route and I followed her to the stage door. This was going to be a tech rehearsal with a complete run through of the show. It wasn't a dress rehearsal, but Margaret and David showed me a publicity shot which hinted at the final costumes. I did make a few clothing changes in the sketch. A scene where Sally performed a one woman show was funny and powerful at the same time. She was a caterpillar who dreamed not of becoming, not a butterfly, but a platypus. Her high energy was infectious. Her brother "CB" was the one high school student who didn't fit in with any clicks yet didn't mind being different. He questioned the meaning of life after loosing his beloved Snoopy whose red dog house sat center stage during the pre-show. The inside of the dog house glowed red as did the Plexiglas cubes which functioned as tables, chairs and platforms as needed.
I always thought that Peppermint Patty, Aka Trish (Julianne Snyder) might be a lesbian. Her valley girl mannerisms and sexy boisterousness performance left open the possibility that she and Marcy (Veronika Kelly) might hook up. They were open to sharing a guy in a threesome and it would just make sense to leave the guy out of the equation eventually. Every scene stays true to the original characters while addressing the insane and difficult world of the high school social structure. It is was like "The Breakfast Club" with Charles Schultz's pubescent characters. When Sally gives her brother a letter from a pen pal "CS" the cast turned towards a screen with a photo of Charles Schultz. The letter reminded CB to stay true to himself despite all odds. I found myself getting choked up at this imagined gesture from a cartoonist whose time here on earth had passed. The show presented characters that I fell in love with all over again. There was loss, sorrow as well as rebellious joy. It packed an emotional punch. Good grief, so don't miss it.
WHAT: “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” is directed by David Lee, assistant directed by Gabriella Juliet Beals and produced by Kangagirl Productions-Margaret Nolan. Graphics and photography by Jocelynn White, sound design by Rachel Comeau, set design by David Lee, and costume assistance by Kyla Swanberg.
WHEN: Saturdays- August 1, 8, 15 and 22 @7:30PM | Industry Night- Monday, August 24 @7:30PM
WHERE: The Footlight Theatre, Parliament House 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail | Orlando, FL 32805
TICKETS: $10 Advance | $15 at the door | Admission to the Parliament House.