At a time of year when families flock to live theater in search of something everyone will enjoy, it’s good to have an option that, while not overtly holiday themed, nevertheless conveys the warm and fuzzy spirit of the season. That’s just one of the reasons that Jessica Hambright and Dauri Kennedy, the artistic directors of the Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts, have chosen the classic musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which runs this week at Center Stage Theater. Asked about her decision to do this show now, Hambright focuses on the talent: “I was never a huge comics fan, but I saw that the show was a good size for my cast, and then, as I got into it, it became clear that these characters — Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and Lucy — were great roles for these actors, most of whom are in the 8th grade.”
As everyone undoubtedly remembers, Charlie Brown is a kind of everyman, surrounded by friends and family who each embody certain traits. As Hambright puts it, there’s “the brainiac, the crabby one, and the existentialist — it’s amazing how much truth the show can uncover without having very much plot.” With two separate casts and a pair of actors, one in 6th and the other in 8th grade, playing Snoopy, the lovable talking beagle, it was important to keep the choreography simple and fun. “Choreography is my specialty,” said Hambright, “so that is where I like to really let the kids shine. It’s not particularly technical, but once I show them where to move and when, everything else is them, which is what this program is about.”
The Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts presents You’re a Good, Man Charlie Brown Sunday-Wednesday, December 15-18, at 6 p.m. For tickets and information, call (805) 963-0408 or visit centerstagetheater.org.