Adventure Theatre's Book Club: Stories Such as 'Charlie Brown' Come to Life

"Charlie Brown" stars, from left, Lauren Williams (Sally), Andrew Sonntag (Charlie Brown), Mark Chandler (Linus), Kurt Boehm (Snoopy), Emily Levey (Lucy) and Jobari Parker-Namdar (Schroeder).
"Charlie Brown" stars, from left, Lauren Williams (Sally), Andrew Sonntag (Charlie Brown), Mark Chandler (Linus), Kurt Boehm (Snoopy), Emily Levey (Lucy) and Jobari Parker-Namdar (Schroeder). (By Bruce Douglas)
By Bennett Sumner
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, June 26, 2009

For parents trying to make sure that young minds stay as active this summer as young bodies, Adventure Theatre at Glen Echo Park has just the ticket.

From the printed page to the live stage, Adventure Theatre's Book Club gives kids the opportunity to watch their favorite stories come to life.

"The book club has a dual purpose in that we want to encourage kids to read and we want to introduce them to live theater. Kids today spend a lot of time watching TV and movies, so they miss out on the theater experience," says Nathan Graham of Adventure Theatre.

The program encourages children to read year-round through the club's membership package, which offers reading incentives. Membership includes a book club passbook to be stamped at every performance, membership stickers, a member card for a 20 percent discount on select titles at Politics and Prose bookstore and two discount tickets per performance.

The next book club production, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," opens today and runs through Aug. 8. It is the last show of the 2008-09 season. (A special book club performance is July 11.) The new 2009-10 season starts Sept. 18 with "Go, Dog. Go!" followed by "The Little Engine That Could" on Dec. 7.

"It's actually a crazy bargain," Graham says of the book club. "Families can subscribe for the season, and it only costs $25."

"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," is based on the classic Charles Schulz comic strip and the book and screenplay by Clark Gesner. It follows the Peanuts kids as they deal with life issues such as leaving a security blanket behind and playing for a baseball championship.

"In a grown-up world, the problems that we face on a daily basis seem profound: paying bills, child care, home repair," says artistic director Michael J. Bobbitt. "What is so great about Schulz's world is that these young kids experience their own profound obstacles: flying a kite, finishing homework and getting a good grade. Remembering life as a child is what this musical is all about."

Though the play is considered a classic of children's theater, director Michael Baron included some modern touches to keep it relevant.

"I wanted to keep the spirit of the original comic strip while having the characters look and act more like kids today," Baron says. "Schulz was constantly bringing his Peanuts gang into the present day, while keeping what makes childhood so special and timeless at the heart of his comic."

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown Adventure Theatre, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-634-2270. Through Aug. 8. $12-$15.

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