BWW Preview: CHARLIE BROWN and the Gang Coming to Teco Theatre - With Special Sensory-Friendly Performance at The Straz Center For The Performing Arts
"Delight" is how Suzanne Livesay, vice president of Education at the Straz Center and director of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown described what she wants the audience to feel after seeing the upcoming production on April 21-30.
For those of us who grew up with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang, it's a trip down memory lane. Excluding technology, things haven't changed much over the decades. Today's kids have the same issues with insecurity and wanting to belong as these characters that were born from Charles Schultz' imagination on October 2, 1950.
Suzanne considers You're a Good Man Charlie Brown her go-to show having directed it 4 times and acted in it 3 times.
"I have a long and delightful history with this show," she said.
She's excited to see her talented students bring Charles's beloved comic strip to life in Clark Gesner's classic musical. The show is filled with big, bold cartoon characters on the stage at Teco Theatre.
With music direction by Kavanaugh Gillespie and choreography by Steven Jones, the charming musical will be performed by 31 fifth through 12th grade students of Patel Conservatory.
Featured in lead roles are Bailey Walman (Ryan Mace understudy) as Charlie Brown, Cole Summers as Linus, Mark Bensonoff as Snoopy, Isabella Falber as Sally, Alondra Rios as Lucy and Aaron Graham as Schroeder.
New to both Patel Conservatory and the Straz Center is a very special Sunday matinee performance.
Those with sensitivity issues, autism and other disabilities who have never experienced the magic of live theatre will be able to see You're a Good Man Charlie Brown with special accommodations on April 23.
"With the rise of autism showing up much more frequently, many parents have not had the opportunity to expose their kids to theatre because they shout out, talk, or do a lot of movement. This is their opportunity to enjoy a show without feeling like they have to be silent and sit still the entire time," she said.
The theatre has addressed issues like abrupt changes in lighting, has lowered the sound, and reduced strobe lights. Patrons are able to talk and leave their seats during the performance and there will be a designated quiet area within the theater.
In addition, attendees can find a social story, a downloadable PDF on the website, outlining what to expect when going to see the production. From the signs an audience member will see, to ushers and ticket-taking procedures to the theatre, acting, and clapping, every step of the theatre-going experience is described with pictures in the simplest terms to make the process a fun, enjoyable one versus an unsettling one.
Suzanne said, "This show is a caricature of childhood played out on the stage. We want our audience to have fun."
Performances are April 21-30, Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. The sensory friendly performance will be April 23rd at 2pm. Regularly priced tickets to You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown start at $15 and may be purchased at the Straz Center Ticket Office, by calling 813.229.7827 or online at www.strazcenter.org.