Do you believe in heaven and hell? Have you ever questioned who you are, or where you are going in life? Does any of life’s everyday ups and downs really matter in the grand scheme of things?
Well, our favorite Peanuts characters are back, and boy have they grown up in Dog Sees God, a play that will have you asking yourself all of these questions and more.
The play, currently being performed at the Ritz Theater Company in Haddon Township, New Jersey is jaw dropping, hysterical, and thought provoking. It opens with Charlie Brown (or C.B. as he’s now called) all grown up and in high school telling us of the loss of his beloved dog. The opening monologue, a letter to the pen pal who never writes him back, is a sad tale of lost direction and a contemplation of who or what he believes in. C.B. said it best himself: “The rain cloud came back and everything went to hell.”
At the time I didn’t realize it, but that one simple line sums up all of the Peanuts’ characters lives as teenagers. C.B. is played by Craig Hutchings, who brought Charlie Brown to life in a breathtaking performance that brought tears in my eyes (as well as his own when the cast was bowing at the close of the play.)
C.B is slowly discovering that grownup life is not as simple as childhood- a concept many of us have struggled with in our own lives. His sister Sally (played by Kaitlyn Delengowski) is struggling with her own identity issues. One day she is a Baptist, the next day she is Wiccan. Kaitlyn took the sweet and innocent younger sister we all grew up with and gracefully brought her identity crisis to life, with an honest portrayal of what so many high school students struggle with. All while being secretly in love with Schroder or Beethoven (as he now goes by), played by Ian Kimble. Beethoven slowly becomes the center of the play and brings the hardest hitting issues of bullying, suicide, and homophobia to the stage.
Kimble’s performance as Beethoven brought tears to my eyes as he expressed the difficulties of being bullied and attacked throughout high school, all because someone decided that he was gay. This is an issue that has become extremely prevalent in the last few years, and his performance will break your heart in regards to the blunt honesty of what so many gay (and not gay) children go thru every day because they are different.
All the rest of our favorites are still here to bring comedic relief as well as an entirely different set of issues to the stage. Peppermint Patty (played by Kristin Foreman) now goes by Tricia, and is starting down the road of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. Her best friend Marcy (played by Sara Viniar) is headed down the same road as Tricia and is desperate for attention. You’ll be laughing and shaking your head at Foreman and Viniar’s antics constantly. Their amazing performances are sure to remind you just how hard it is to feel like you fit in, as well as the great lengths so many of us go to in order to feel accepted.
Linus, who now goes by Van (played by Sean Casey), has grown up and become a stoner. The one thing that hasn’t changed is his slightly off but always thought provoking advice. Casey’s performance is exactly how I pictured Linus all grown up, and he does not disappoint in his interpretation of Charlie Brown’s best friend. Linus’ sister Lucy (played by Jennie Knackstedt) has landed herself in a mental institution. But don’t worry, the doctor is still in and charging five cents for advice when C.B. pays her a visit. While Knackstedt has the least amount of stage time, it’s still an extremely important role. She is the person who applauds C.B. for stepping outside of the box and finally trying to accept who he is. At the same time, she makes you want to stand up and cheer for C.B. as well.
If you are a Pig-Pen fan, don’t worry- he is back as well. He now goes by Matt and is played by Rob Paluso (he also is now borderline OCD about being clean!) Matt, once the quiet ball of dirt, is now a bully and homophobic. Rob brought bullying center stage in an in-your-face stunning performance. His portrayal of a boy so insecure with who he is that he lashes at others and makes you wonder about every bully you have ever crossed paths with.
Director Ernie Jewell has not only brought together an amazing cast, but he made sure that their performance will make you wish you could go back to high school and stand up to the class bully, as well as stop judging other people you encounter in life. I should warn you this play has some extremely mature content, including language and sexual references.
However if you have ever wondered where do we go when we die, struggled to accept the death of a loved one, search high and low only to still not know who you are, or bent over backwards to find acceptance from your peers, been bullied (or been the bully), then Dog Sees God is without a doubt a must-see need to experience. It truly is a one of a kind, life-changing play.
The play is running June 21st -23rd at 8 pm. For more information about this and all of the up and coming production visit www.ritztheatreco.org.
Mandelyn Kilroy is currently attending Full Sail University and majoring in Creative Writing For Entertainment. Mandelyn currently lives out side of Philadelphia near King of Prussia with her cocker spaniel Chloe. When she is not working or studying, she spends her time reading, writing, and taking in everything Philly has to offer.
Contact her at email@example.com
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