The Peanuts gang, two ways

Daily Staff Report
Special to the DailyThe Peanuts gang enjoys a good laugh with Charlie Brown and Snoopy as they head off to school. Cast members (l-r): AJ LeGaye ( Charlie Brown), Maddie Sullivan (Snoopy), Lia Zneimer (Lucy), Bobby LeGaye (Linus), Katy Lackey (Sally) and Coco Chalfant(Schroeder).

Based on a day in the life of Charles Schultz’s endearing outcast, Charlie Brown, this frolicking musical brings together the whole Peanuts gang: Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, Linus, and, of course, WWI ace, Snoopy. The play is under the direction of famed Vail Performer Don Watson, who was able to wrestle Mickey Poage away from the Lodge to accompany the cast on the piano.

This is the first musical undertaken by the school in a number of years. When casting was announced, student response was tremendous and Watson chose a unique approach. He filled two complete casts, which will be used on alternating performances. Friday night will feature A.J. LeGaye in the title role, Lia Zneimer as Lucy, Patrick Scanlan as Schroeder, Katy Lackey as Sally, Bobby LeGaye as Linus and Maddie Sullivan as “Joe Cool” Snoopy. Saturday’s performance brings Michael Schindel to the stage as Charlie Brown, Kelly Casber as sister Sally, Drew Riley as Linus, Coco Chalfant as Schroeder, Jamie Simmonds as Snoopy and Kayla Cheatham as the always crabby Lucy Van Pelt. Whitney Simmonds assists Mr. Watson with directing while Nicole Trumpower coordinates the show technically as stage manager.

Scanlan and Riley make their stage debut this weekend. When asked why he auditioned, Patrick confessed that “he wanted to break the bonds of the stereotypical jock soccer player.” Like Scanlan, Riley was attracted to the experience of high school theater. Both look forward to their “exchanges” with Lucy. Sullivan brings fresh energy to Snoopy. Her presentation of “Suppertime” is worth the price of admission. Trumpower is also new to the Mountain School stage. A transfer student from Maryland, she brings a wealth of experience and a passion for the theater. While she looked to acting, it was readily apparent to the directors that her experience and organization would best be utilized coordinating the technical production.

For the seasoned cast members, Charlie Brown is an extension of

experience acquired in high school and the community. Casber, Lackey, LeGaye and student director Simmonds make their last musical appearance in high school with this show. Simmonds has been a fixture in both Vail Mountain School and community theater productions for a number of years. “Charlie Brown” represents the second time she has filled the director’s chair. Likewise, Zneimer and Cheatham are veterans of both school and valley-wide productions, as is Simmonds. Zneimer doubled rehearsal time as she often ran from school to the Vilar Center where she performed in the “Evening on Broadway” community theater benefit. Cheatham is the veteran in the cast. She has been an anchor in each Vail Mountain School production since middle school, and spends summers in the Catskills at Stage Door Manor. Chalfant has developed her talent in summer stock as well. She has spent numerous summers at Interlocken Arts and Theater Camp. Schindel steps out of the director’s chair he occupied for “A Rose for Emily” to try his talent as a song-and dance-man. Likewise, LeGaye brings the ability discovered in “Our Town” to the role of Linus. Bobby will be the first to say the experience has been “awesome.”

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All of the actors are thrilled by the opportunity to work with the director, Watson. Before moving to Vail, Watson enjoyed a successful performing career worldwide . During his 20 years in the Vail Valley, Don has played every venue. Musical theater is his passion, however. Ten years ago he and Bob Finnie co-authored and produced the musical “Come to the River” which played both here and in Aspen. According to A.J. LeGaye, Watson “has a constant vision for the show and a professionalism that extracts the best from the cast.”

“You’re a good man, Charlie Brown” Tickets for all performances are $5

for adults, $2 for students and free for pre-school children.

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