Mt. Hood students perform on stage for Peanuts
'Snoopy: The Musical' plays this week and next on campus
Fans of the 'Peanuts' comic strip have ample opportunity this week and next to enjoy 'Snoopy: The Musical,' which runs from Feb. 24 through March 4 at Mt. Hood Community College.
The song 'n' dance show is a sequel to 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown' and includes vignettes staged in a pumpkin patch, Lucy's psychiatry booth and atop Snoopy's doghouse.
The score includes such numbers as 'What I Know Now,' 'Just One Person' and 'Don't Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be.'
Prior to the musical's debut, The Outlook interviewed some of the Mt. Hood actors to get their take on one of America's most famous comic strips.
Sam McPherson, a first-year student studying jazz music, plays Snoopy the beagle.
'When I first heard I would be playing the role, I began to read a lot of the comic strip, and of course the play itself, taking a look at some of the physical things that Snoopy does,' he says. 'I gave some thought to how I might start to think and act if I, like the character, were unheard by those around him.'
He adds that his favorite part of the role is Snoopy's combination of dog and human traits.
'While Snoopy does think and act in human ways, he still does have the outlook of a dog, and the life experience of a dog,' McPherson says. 'The physical mannerisms and ups and downs of a dog's emotions and actions make for a very wide variety of thing for me as an actor to play with and have some real fun with.
'The role of Snoopy is often very silly, very over the top, and very open to interpretation and experimentation,' he says, adding, 'which is the sort of role that most actors, myself included, absolutely love.'
Marissa Hanson, 20, is a sophomore studying theater and plays Peppermint Patty, 'the tomboy who isn't as well known as some of the main characters.'
'When portraying her, I try to disconnect with my feminine side,' she says. 'For instance, I always cross my legs when I sit, which is something Patty would never do.'
Hanson says she tries to keep Patty 'simple-minded.'
'She always gets bad grades in school and thought Snoopy was 'the funny-looking kid with the big nose' that stayed in '(Charlie Brown's) guest cottage' for a while,' she says.
'I've never played a tomboy on stage,' Hanson adds. 'I've been in a lot of plays, and this is one of the very few that I get to wear pants, rather than a skirt or dress. So it's hard at times to get out of the routine of playing a feminine adult, but it's also a lot of fun to be a totally new character and to 'butch it up.''
David Koshuba, 19, in his second year studying teaching, acting and physical therapy, portrays Charlie Brown's friend Linus. Koshuba confesses he didn't know much about his character until he got the role.
'I didn't grow up with the 'Peanuts' comics being a huge deal for me,' he says. 'That changed very quickly, as you might imagine. Linus is supposed to be the genius of the group, a bit of a know-it-all. However, we decided that we didn't want him to be a huge snob but instead the little kid who knows a lot and thinks that everyone is just as excited to hear his knowledge as he is to share it.'
Acting like a child for a 'long period of time' on stage is the most challenging aspect of playing Linus, he says.
'You forget just how over the top and energetic kids are until you have to be one again,' he says. 'On the other hand, it's also one of the most enjoyable things. To be over-the-top silly and not have to feel like an idiot about it is so much fun.'
All three actors say 'Snoopy' is a show designed to appeal to a wide audience.
'The older folks know and love the story and characters, and I think the young folks will be, as I was as a kid, attracted to the characters and story just like their parents were as kids,' McPherson says.
'Who wouldn't want to see their favorite cartoons come to life and sing and dance?' Hanson adds.
If you go
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1;
Fridays, Feb. 24 and March 2; Saturdays, Feb. 25 and March 3;
2 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 26 and March 4
WHERE: Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St.
INFO: Performing Arts office, 503-491-6969. Individuals requiring accommodations due to a disability should call 503-491-6923 or 503-491-7670 (TDD).