“Snoopy!!!” opened at 42nd Street Moon Theater and while the grand standing Beagle goes big time, the characters rise above their Charles Shulzian perpetual childhoods to show insight into their characters as this cast shows some growing pains and depth. True to Schulzian dictates and the cartoonist's Peter Pan refusal to let his perfectly round headed characters grow outside the lines, the character of Snoopy played by Keith Pinto does not actually steal the show. The production features the always-strong ensemble of gifted singers at 42nd Street Moon. Larry Grossman wrote the music, Hal Hackady wrote the lyrics. Almost everything sounds clever. Although the holidays come up, it is not a Christmas show per se but makes a wonderful break from your shopping and partying.
However this time one is taken by the phenomenal voices of Chloe Condon and Ashley Rae Little as little sister Sally Brown and tomboy Peppermint Patty. Ashley Rae Little sings the haunting lullaby to Charlie Brown called “Poor Sweet Baby” as the lights dim and Ian Leonard as Charlie Brown tears up and actually looks quietly overwhelmed with emotion. You will be humming “Poor Sweet Baby” in your head the next morning.
Some characters and storylines remain true to Schulz’s writing and some characters or moments do seem to be consistent particularly with Lucy, played by Dyan McBride. Snoopy’s commercialism and grand standing; the scorn received; licking Lucy to torment her because she’s so critical and to make fun of her bossiness; Lucy’s blue dress and saddle shoes and dark hair cut in a girlish style which contrasts comically with her asserted maturity.
Snoopy like Schulz or any blogger for that matter decides he wants to be taken seriously and will become a great novelist. So, there’s no tinsel and glitter first place dog house in a Christmas decoration contest but you get a great “Big Bow Wow” show stopper inspired says Keith Pinto by Bob Fosse among others. I thought I saw a little Liza Minnelli and Tim Curry. Pinto himself has an Australian shepherd. The typewriter is a real old fashioned manual typewriter that really clacks but it has a cartoon cutout over it to make it look like animation.
The costumes in general don’t do anybody justice but that’s not what patrons go to 42nd Street Moon for. The singing alone consistently uplifts and entertains and opening nights are low key and fun with the cast mingling and clowning as they spill outside after the champagne reception. L’Olivier always serves a delicious array for opening night patrons including charming tiny shrimp tarts and bite size English cucumber sandwiches as well as salmon bites. It’s actually healthy.
Anyway, it’s a minor quibble but Peppermint Patty needs a unisex pageboy wig as Ashley Rae in real life has long light brown hair.
Chloe Condon is absolutely darling and quirky looking on stage and off but she looks and acts kind of like Shirley Temple.
Keith Pinto's Snoopy at least needs to have droopy beagle ears. He's just dressed in white jeans and a dog collar.
In any event. The girls were good sports and gathered together for a shoe photo once they got out of their Charlie Brown saddle shoes. The one on the end in the Back to the Future Marty McFly shoes is Keith Pinto, Snoopy. Pinto also served as dance captain.
Kyle Stoner as a blanket toting Linus sang animatedly for somebody used to performing Shakespeare and he’s from Napa. He has auditioned for Cal Shakes in Orinda with a charming monologue by Henry VIII. He and the actor from Henry VIII on television, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, could double for each other. Many may remember Meyers from Woody Allen’s memorable “Match Point” opposite Scarlett Johannsen. Stoner does some physical comedy and there’s a good sequence in the school scene with the teacher’s voice before the song “Edgar Allen Poe”. All the kids articulate fear but it’s of the teacher, or more specifically of being called on.
Janine Burgener looks so pretty, sophisticated and feminine with her dark looks in person one can hardly recognize her as Woodstock in yellow ruffled shorts with no lines as her character delivers messages on cue cards. A guest said at the reception, “you are so less bright in person”.
Ian Leonard seemed well cast as the round headed Charlie Brown. Downtrodden, his character doesn’t even make eye contact. He just has the classic demeanor even as he openly pines in a grown up or teenage way for somebody to tell him she loves him.
The ensemble performs “Just One Person” for the finale and that’s a winner.
“Snoopy!!!” premiered in San Francisco in 1975, which makes sense given Charles Schulz lived in Santa Rosa and that’s where the museum is. The museum hosts many wonderful and nostalgic Christmas events and the theater offers postcards good for a dollar discount. It’s one of the best holiday celebrations in the North Bay.
"Snoopy!!!" runs for ten more days and it's the last show of the season.
Tickets cost $25 to $75.
Shows: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Saturday showtime is six p.m. which is a blessing and Sundays it's a matinee at three. The family matinee is Saturday, December 7 at one.
The theater is the Eureka Theater at 215 Jackson Street on Jackson Square. Starbucks and Safeway are in the complex. It's an easy walk or bike ride from Embarcadero BART with street parking for free after six p.m..
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