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The Peanuts Gang Live
On Stage at the OCTC

by Elizabeth Warren

Photos by Ben Gorman

Happiness is … celebrating the holiday season with fun, family, laughter and music as Oak Creek Theatre Company presents You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. The production plays Wednesdays — Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, 2:00 p.m. through January 14 (except Dec. 18-26) at Sedona Arts Center’s Charles W. Raison Theatre.

Featuring the antics of Charles Schulz’s sweetly neurotic Peanuts Gang, the hit Broadway musical remains true to the comic strip and to the expectations of its many fans.

"It’s a wonderful show for all ages," says Producing Artistic Director Mary Guaraldi. "Charlie, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest speak to us across generations through the language of laughter."

The production stars Rick Davis, Kathy Ferman, Ben Gorman, Nathaniel Hackmann, Elizabeth Honer and Matt Howell, with Rebecca Cauthen as accompanist.

Hackmann (Charlie Brown) is fresh off a successful turn in OCTC’s A Grand Night for Singing, where the NAU vocal performance major "holds the audience in his hands…" (Elaine Winter, Daily Sun). Hackmann continues to add to a list of credits that include Phoenix Children’s Theatre and Theatreworks. Ferman (Patty), infamous for her turn as pooch Sylvia in OCTC’s production of the eponymous show, is also the co-founder of Children’s Classic Caravan, a non-profit children’s theatre. Davis (Snoopy) attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Seen last season in The Dining Room, he recently returned from playing Romeo and Juliet with Arkansas Shakespeare.

Gorman (Schroeder), who played 10 different roles in OCTC’s production of The Dining Room last season, is formerly from San Francisco, and has performed at the Exit Theatre and Subterranean Shakespeare, as well as with Shakespeare Sedona. Honer (Lucy), a vocal performance major at NAU, was recently seen as Ms. Hannigan in Valley Youth Theatre’s production of Annie. Howell (Linus) is a second year performance major at NAU. Also first-chair flutist at Arizona Allstate, he has performed at recitals in Japan. Accompanist Cauthen teaches school and private piano in addition to accompanying professionally. She performed in OCTC’s productions of Forever Plaid and A Grand Night for Singing. Her credits also include The Fantasticks and Falsetto Land.

Director Mary Guaraldi heads up the same production team that brought northern Arizona theatregoers the stunningly realized trip through the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, A Grand Night for Singing. A writer, teacher and producer, she has directed at regional theatres around the country. Recent credits include OCTC hit shows Always...Patsy Cline and Forever Plaid.

Musical director Eric Tucker has extensive performance credits throughout the United States and is currently a faculty member at Northern Arizona University. Choreographer Celeste Headlee, in addition to her many theatre and music credits, sings at the Church of the Red Rocks and is a reporter and Morning Edition host on KNAU-FM in Flagstaff.

The production also features a special treat — a set co-designed by Edwin Nagy and renowned abstract artist Marlys Powell. Seven vibrant, large-scale paintings by Powell complement Nagy’s block-like interpretations of Snoopy’s doghouse and Schroeder’s piano, among other pieces. The effect is a colorful, exuberant playground for the actors to bounce off of as the vignettes unfold.

"This has been my first scene design work and it has been a blast," says Powell. "Popping all those primary colors to set the stage for those little Charlie Brown cartoon characters may end up influencing my ‘serious easel art.’ They have been such fun works to have around in the studio."

"I‘ve wanted to work collaboratively with a visual artist for some time," says Guaraldi. "When we decided to do Charlie Brown, I knew Marlys would be the perfect choice. Her sense of movement and color struck me as exactly the spirit I envisioned for this production."

Powell’s pieces, all designed especially for Charlie Brown, will be available for purchase through a combination of sales and silent auction. Bids will be accepted now through January 14, 2001. Proceeds will benefit Oak Creek Theatre Company.

"I hope that auctioning off my canvases will help raise some of the much needed funds to keep this viable and wonderful theatre in Sedona," says Powell.

"Her paintings are beautiful," says Guaraldi. "It’s a thrill to see them on our stage. Though we’ll be sad to see them go, their auction is helping us to find a new stage, so that we can continue to produce theatre for northern Arizona."

General admission to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is $15, with a $12 price available to members of SAC and a $9 price for children and full-time students. Group rates are available, call for details. Tickets can be purchased locally by phone at 520.282.3809, or toll-free at 888.954.4442. Tickets are also available at OCTC outlets: Rycus’ Corners, Bashas’, Sedona Arts Center Gallery and Gift Shop and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. Give the gift of theatre with OCTC Gift Certificates. One size fits all, they make perfect stocking stuffers for any one of any age. There will be no performances of Charlie Brown for the week of December 18 — 26.

All Wednesday night performances are $10, based on seating availability. Sundays feature the popular "Curtain Call" program, a post-show discussion with the actors and director of the production. Don’t miss this behind-the-scenes peek into the world of professional theatre.

Don’t miss OCTC’s next production, Later Life. Written by the fellow behind Sylvia and The Dining Room, the comedy takes a keen and humorous look at people of a certain age taking on a certain thing called love. The New York Post calls it "charmingly clever, yet immeasurably touching." Previewing January 14, the production runs through February 25. Get your tickets fast, Later Life only plays for four weeks!

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