"Peanuts" comes to life on Andes stage

By John Bernhardt
It was a weekend of laugh-filled entertainment as Charles Schulz’s world famous Peanuts Gang came to life on the Andes Central School stage. Large, brightly colored panels depicting each of the main characters of Schulz’s famous “Peanuts” comic strip were the backdrop of an often hilarious, always spirited performance of Clark Gesnar’s stage adaptation of a concept album he had originally produced.
The show featured Andes senior Russell Koronowski as Charlie Brown and highlighted the typical struggles faced by the main character in a single day. Koronowski brought to life Charlie Brown’s legendary battles winning the heart of the little red-haired girl, trying to fly a kite, and being better understood by his neighborhood gang.
Real life sibling experiences helped Rachel and Jonathan Andrews master the roles of Lucy and Linus Van Pelt. Often on stage together, the Andrews siblings charmed the audience in several scenes including, “Queen Lucy, My Blanket and Me,” the “Crabbiness Survey” and “Little Known Facts.”
Senior James Litaker brought down the house as Schroeder with his rousing rendition of “Beethoven Day.” Litaker’s powerful singing voice and the lively antics of the cast in the background as he sung made this number a crowd favorite.
Eighth-grader Zackery Grapes was outstanding capturing the mannerisms and ego of everybody’s favorite Schulz character, Snoopy. Teasing, cajoling and delighting the audience in his wildly popular portrayal of “Suppertime,” Grapes used a combination of dance steps that included moon walking, Elvis Presley moves, and a top hat and cane routine using his dog dish and a baseball bat.
Yet, the loudest laughs each night might have occurred at the conclusion of act one. A program insert, “Little Bird” was a singing adaptation of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” performed by Kally Lauther with Andes alumni Dillon Knapp accompanying on the guitar. As the duo performed sitting on the stairs at the end of the stage, ACS six-foot, five-inch tall senior Nathan Tuch, playing the role of Woodstock, and tiny third-grader Brea Fyfe, playing Little Bird, commanded center stage dancing in the background.
The show featured one unique staging strategy. Acting pairs shared the roles of Sally Brown and Schroeder with a different actor handling the spoken and singing demands of each role. Kaitlin Mackay and Kally Lauther were Sally and John Smith and Litaker handled the role of Schroeder.
Cody Ruff added several laugh lines as Pig Pen, another added character to Gesnar’s show.
Adding to the fun and helping assure the success of the Andes show were two key people, Kent Brown and Janice Armstrong. Brown and Armstrong formed a great team, with Brown on the piano and Armstrong providing musical direction, and both providing the tips and quality instruction to help the young ACS performers thrive.