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'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown'

Production part of troupe re-establishing itself


JEREMIAH MITCHELL BRAEBACK - Schroeder, played by Robert Nove, deals with Lucy, played by Kelli Lacey, in the Gresham Little Theater's production of 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.'Katharine Head was made to play Snoopy.

The Gresham resident not only owns two dogs, she’s also a professional pet groomer. As a member of Gresham Little Theater’s cast for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Head says she’s based her portrayal on her two Boston Terriers, Ozzy and Kay, as well as her friend’s Tammi Jensen’s Beagle Jack.

“I kind of melded the three of them together to create this Snoopy character,” she says, noting Snoopy is “really adventurous and just sort of fun loving and sweet.”

“Charlie Brown” opened last week at the theater’s new location, the KNOVA Learning Center, 740 S.E. 182nd Ave., and concludes its run with shows at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday May 19-21. Based on the famed “Peanuts” comic strip, the musical comedy was written in 1967 by Clark Gesner. Although “Peanuts” is famous for its gentle humor, “Charlie Brown” is no easy undertaking, Head says.

“The whole musical is deceptively hard,” she says. “The vocals and the ways that they are layered are actually quite hard. The songs vocally are almost like a marathon you’re running.”

Not to mention, it’s an ensemble performance, with no one “star,” so to speak. Characters repeatedly come on and off the stage, including the man himself, Charlie Brown, played by Head’s husband, Justin Tramposh. Millions of people have a “history” with “Peanuts,” he says, noting the comic strips, cartoons and movies it spawned.

“Becoming Charlie Brown was a really surreal experience,” Tramposh says. “I think a lot of people can identify with him because he’s part of everyone. Everyone has had a bad day. That’s why he’s so relatable.”

Theater revived

“Charlie Brown” is just the latest sign of the Gresham Little Theater’s revival. Founded as a program of the City of Gresham’s Parks and Recreation Department in 1999, the theater has staged productions in various locations in East Multnomah County over the years, but stopped regularly producing plays for various reasons, including financial challenges, about six years ago.

Michele Brouse Peoples, the theater’s founder and artistic director, notes GLT returned to the local scene with a production of “MacBeth the Western” last year, and has found a permanent home at KNOVA where she teaches English as a Second Language. GLT operates under the nonprofit East Metro Arts & Culture Council, which serves as the theater’s fiscal agent, she says.

Among the volunteers the revived program boasts is Jeremiah Mitchell Braeback, GLT’s technical director, who has worked with the theater since 2004. Braeback says the theater is entering an exciting phase, and hosts a musical open mic night called “Rhapsody,” which takes place the second Sunday of each month.

“We plan to expand our educational programming to include performance and tech classes for all ages, and we will need help getting the word out as we build up our program, especially connecting with our new neighbors in the Rockwood area,” he says, noting the theater is looking for folks to help with marketing.”

Peoples adds that GLT is open to all.

“When you support the GLT, you are supporting your community in a fun and positive way,” she says.

If you go

WHAT: ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, May 19-21

WHERE: KNOVA Learning Center, 740 S.E. 182nd Ave.

COST: $8 adults, $6 students

INFO: greshamlittletheater.com