SSHS’ ‘Fools’ and CMC’s ‘Charlie Brown’ productions to take stage |

SSHS’ ‘Fools’ and CMC’s ‘Charlie Brown’ productions to take stage

Margaret Hair

— Director Mike Brumbaugh’s original vision for a spring theater production was darker.

He wanted to put on “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” a play based on Charles Schulz’s famous “Peanuts” characters that addresses those characters’ quirks – Charlie Brown’s depression, Linus’ knack for explaining it – when they reach high school.

But the students Brumbaugh had worked with in past community and school theater productions wanted to do a musical. So they opted for the Broadway show “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

“I thought, ‘Well, what a good idea to do the musical and still do the play afterward,'” Brumbaugh said. He hopes to produce “Dog Sees God” at the beginning of June.

There was one more motivation to put on “Charlie Brown,” which opens Thursday at Steamboat Springs High School: “I can’t go for very long without doing a show, and it was about time,” Brumbaugh said.

The musical follows Charlie Brown through a series of day-to-day scenes and songs, featuring “Peanuts” characters including Snoopy, Schroeder, Lucy, Linus and Sally. It originally went to Broadway in 1967 – the Steamboat Springs performances are based on a popular 1999 Broadway revival.

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The show is sponsored by Colorado Mountain College. Brumbaugh, who is the student support service coordinator for CMC’s Alpine Campus, said he hopes the show is the beginning of a connection between college students and community theater – although no CMC students are participating in “Charlie Brown.”

“I really did want this to be a community theater production, but the people who ended up auditioning and turned out to be the best for the characters were high school-aged students,” he said.

Music for the “Charlie Brown” production is provided by a small band of local professional musicians. The songs are upbeat and lighthearted, and they will be staged on a set that’s been built large on purpose so the actors will appear smaller and younger, Brumbaugh said.

SSHS’ ‘Fools’ runs through Saturday

Before “Charlie Brown” takes the high school stage, the school’s theater department will complete its run of Neil Simon’s “Fools,” a play so silly the high school students putting it on almost feel bad laughing at its jokes.

Set in the fictional village of Kulyenchikov, Ukraine, “Fools” starts out with a schoolteacher named Leon. He comes to Kulyenchikov and notices something awry: the people he meets can’t answer simple questions.

It turns out that Kulyenchikov is saddled with a 200-year-old curse that has made everyone born in the village irrevocably and ridiculously stupid.

“You laugh at it, and then you’re kind of like, ‘Wow, that was really bad. They’re just making fun of the stupid people,” said John Oakland. The Steamboat Springs High School senior is cast as the village butcher and as an evil count whose ancestors set the curse.

Theater teacher Amy Pottinger said she chose “Fools” for its lighthearted sense of humor. The play, which relies heavily on students’ delivery of simple jokes, gives young actors a chance to develop their skills, Pottinger said. The levity of the play could offer a break for audiences, she said.

“On a certain level, we all need a little of that,” she said. “You don’t have to come to this and think. You just laugh and have fun and see good kids doing good work.”