By Davis Bannister
This isn’t your grandmother’s Charlie Brown. Fitchburg State’s student-run drama club, The Falcon Players, are staging a production of “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” a satirical, irreverent, musical spin-off featuring the beloved cast of Peanuts as teenagers.
First-time director Erika Haynes, a Fitchburg State sophomore, summed up the play by saying, “[It’s a] true coming-of-age tale as CB [to avoid copyright infringement, characters are never explicitly named for their Peanuts counterparts] and his friends grow into dysfunctional teenagers, each dealing with their own issues they struggle with each day. Some are alcoholics others are drug addicts. Some are just finding their sexuality and others are just trying to find acceptance.”
The show, which opens in Percival Auditorium on May 2, has been a challenge, albeit one she gladly accepted, for Haynes. Most notably, working with a wide range of actors has been especially rewarding.
“For me it has been especially difficult to learn each actor’s style and unique quirks. Everyone is different and I had to find out how to convey exactly what I wanted from them in an individual way.”
Actor Jack Low, playing Beethoven (based on the character Schroeder) had nothing but praise for the direction by Haynes and the assistant director and musical director, Nick Imbimbo.
“I have had a very busy schedule, but it’s been amazing every time I get in [the theater]. It reminds me why I want to get in there,” Imbimbo said. “Erika and Nick have done a great job of telling me what I need to work on. My character needs to be sassier. Its pivotal to how he deals with his life, which is frankly s#$%.”
While much of the play is a dark comedy, many aspects are much more tragic. Said Low of his character, “He’s a very tormented kid. After the events of the comic strip, he had a rough home life and was a victim of child abuse, which resulted in others being pushed away from him. Matt, the version of Pigpen, hates my character. He turned all the dirtiness internal and became very homophobic.”
This show really has it all, including, but certainly not limited to, drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion, sexual relations and identity, and, of course, rabies. Among this laundry list of socially relevant issues lies a subplot of Beethoven’s sexuality.
In fact, Low, in his first stage performance, will share a romantic kiss with another man.
Said Low, “Playing a male-on-male romantic scene isn’t as bad to deal with as you think. It’s actually probably easier than a heterosexual kissing scene. There’s always tension there but with this, its just more objective … It shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not that hard to kiss a guy; it’s not a big deal. And we have good chemistry.”
Haynes expects her directorial debut to go well. “It is going great. Everyone is working very hard and putting in a lot of effort at each rehearsal. It is a real treat to watch the actors craft all the new discoveries being made as they become more comfortable with their characters and the script.”
She expects a strong positive reaction from Fitchburg attendees, stating, “It’s a show full of laughter and tears, and many memorable characters.”