'Dog Sees God' imagines a harsh future for 'Peanuts'-like characters
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Charlie Brown's popular, Lucy's a firebug and Snoopy's dead in the latest play from RR Entertainment.
Only it's not Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy — not exactly. Instead, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead is playwright Bert V. Royal's unauthorized parody of the Peanuts characters, so beloved from the comic strip, TV specials and movies created and inspired by Charles M. Schulz.
The Amarillo production will be staged at 6 p.m. Sunday and July 20, 21 and 22 at RR Bar, 701 S. Georgia St. (The July 20 and 22 performances will be open to 18 and older; otherwise, the bar is 21 and older only.) Tickets are $10. Call 806-341-5141.
Royal, who went on to write the Emma Stone film Easy A, wrote the parody in the early 2000s, imagining the Peanuts characters as royally messed up teens grappling with sexual identity, molestation, eating disorders and more.
"It's dealing with a lot of homophobic issues and bullying," said director Crystal Zimmerman, who previously directed an Amarillo production of the show in 2012. "People need to be aware of the different ways bullying takes place and that what people think is just playing around may actually be that detrimental thing that's going to push somebody over the edge."
CB, as the teenage blockhead is known in the show, is intensely mourning the death of his dog and, despite being part of the in-crowd, still feels like an outsider, said actor Cliff McCormick.
"He's really questioning everything," McCormick said. "He's not sure about himself or how to deal with certain issues that he's going through.
"I think we've all had those conflicts, so it's great to work through them in the show."
He's dealing with a younger sister (Jesse Neel) who's trying on different personas and life philosophies, and mean girls Tricia and Marcy (Amberley Clark and Elizabeth McKenzie). His best friend Matt (Landon Adams) used to be, well, a pigpen, but he's cleaned up his act externally, though he has pathological issues and torments the musically inclined Beethoven (Bryan Lewis) incessantly.
Beethoven's dealing with his own burdens: Shortly before the events of the play, his classmates learn that he has been sexually abused by his father. Meanwhile, CB's friend Van (Kurt Neel) is a pothead philosopher whose sister (Kayla Fuller) has been locked up for setting a red-headed girl's hair on fire. (EDIT: A previous version said the sister set the girl's house on fire. She apparently wasn't quite that violent.)
"But I don't want people to think that it's completely depressing because there are a lot of funny moments in the show," McCormick said. "I don't want people to think they'll walk out feeling depressed, because I think it will be the opposite."
Zimmerman is adding her own touch to the show by interpolating songs from contemporary stage musicals into Royal's script, including pieces from First Date, Heathers and Bare.
"It's kind of a build-your-own musical," ZImmerman said. "There is so much new musical theater out there that is not super well-known, and some of those songs I feel like, in the context of this show, just make sense."
Zimmerman said she finds the play "a really interesting commentary on how everybody has to grow up sometime."
"Even the most innocent will have to grow up sometime and deal with the crap of the world," she said.