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Reston Community Players Open 2014 Season With YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN Tonight

Fall is in the air, and it's perfect weather for tangling kites in trees, trying to finally win a baseball game, and hoping against hope to finally kick the football without having it pulled away at the last minute by a certain psychoanalyzing little girl as Reston Community Players opens its 48th season tonight, October 17 with the award winning musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

"What could be more fun than a talking dog with a flying WWI dog house? Or the chance to work with such a talented group as the Reston Players brings together both on and off stage?" said RCP director Richard Bird.

Bird said his affection for Charles Schultz' iconic Peanuts characters dates back to his childhood, and he fondly recalls fighting with his siblings over possession of the Sunday newspaper with the color comics. "There are certain comics that I'd go to week after week, and Peanuts was always in the mix," Bird said. "I'm not sure I always got the humor, but there was something very human and easy to relate to in Schultz's characters and stories."

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown follows a typical day in the life of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. Featuring such memorable songs as "My New Philosophy," "Suppertime," and "Happiness," the Broadway revival garnered two Tony awards for featured actress (Kristin Chenoweth) and featured actor (Roger Bart). Reston Community Players' You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is directed by Richard Bird with music direction by Mark V. Deal. The ensemble cast features Richard Farella as Charlie Brown, Alana Sharp as Lucy, Nina Jankowicz as Sally, Sidney Davis as Linus, Eric Hughes as Schroeder, and Terry Barr as Snoopy. Laura Baughman is the producer.

"The Peanuts strip isn't just a humorous comic, but it's also a philosophical comic," said Bird. "I think this musical captures both the humor and Schultz's insights into what makes us human. Some of the songs and skits are humorous and a few will really touch people's hearts. What could be better than that?"

Sidney Davis, who is known to metro D.C. audiences for his work with The Arlington Players (Promises, Promises; 9 to 5), The Rude Mechanicals, and VTC, plays the blanket toting, philosophical Linus. "Ultimately I hope people have a great time and laugh a lot," Davis said. "There are some deeper themes in the show that I hope most of the adults catch on to, but I think joy would be the one thing I want people to leave with. I think adults with children will come to the show and remember how everything is new and heightened when you're a kid. It's always nice to look at things from a different perspective."

Richard Farella plays the everyman character of Charlie Brown. "I think people can identify with Charlie Brown and his fears," Farella said. "There's this one scene where Lucy is giving psychological advice to Charlie Brown and she tells him you're the singular, remarkable, unique Charlie Brown. I think the big message is to be yourself."

Alana Sharp, who most recently captivated audiences as the nefarious Madame Thenardier in RCP's LES MISERABLES, takes on the assertive -- and misunderstood -- Lucy. "She doesn't see herself as bossy or crabby," Sharp said. "If everyone would just listen to her, she wouldn't be crabby or bossy. Really, she's just trying to help everyone through life but they aren't making it easy for her. Sometimes her frustration is more apparent. But really, it's not her fault."

Terry Barr, who was most recently seen at Reston in Next to Normal and A Tribute to the Music of Rogers & Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, plays that irrepressible dog, Snoopy. "Snoopy is so interesting because he's this little dog with a huge imagination," Barr said. "I think it's brilliant how he embodies all of those dog qualities -- if it's not on his agenda, he's not interested -- and then has this other dimension where he musters up the energy to fight the Red Baron and sing about suppertime."

Nina Jankowicz plays Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally, a girl with many philosophies and a huge crush on Linus. "With well-known characters and shows, there is always a fear that you somehow won't be "enough"- either you won't live up to the original performer's version of the character, or in the case of Charlie Brown, you won't live up to the cartoon character," Jankowicz said. "But the rewarding part of doing iconic characters and shows is taking material that is well-loved and bringing a little bit of your own uniqueness and experience to the work."

Eric Hughes, who plays the Beethoven obsessed Schroeder, said he has enjoyed finding the mix of personality in creating a well-known character. "The characters are ageless, and the appeal is universal," Hughes said. "It's not a family show, in that it doesn't cater exclusively (or condescendingly) to children, but it's accessible to children while allowing adults to reminisce about their childhood, breathing new life into their memories of the Peanuts gang and the joy of reading the Sunday morning comics section."

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a show that can be enjoyed by all ages," said Jankowicz. "That's said about a lot of shows, but for Charlie Brown, it's true. Kids just picking up the comics for the first time will love it, and adults that grew up with Peanuts will feel like they're coming home. The show includes slapstick physical comedy, lots of humor for nerds and classical music buffs, and poignant moments and life lessons that everyone can identify with."

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs October 17- November 7. All performances are at 8:00 p.m. with the exception of 2:00 p.m. matinees on October 26 and November 2. All Reston Players mainstage productions are performed at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston, Va. CenterStage is handicap accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired. Tickets can be purchased through www.restonplayers.org or by calling the CenterStage box office at 703-476-4500 x 3.


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