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A CurtainUp Review
Snoopy the Musical

Don't be a sail if you can be the boat
Don't be the lining if you can be the coat
It may lose its sail but a boat will float
A coat without a lining is still a coat
Better to be the boat and the coat

-- Lyrics from "Don't be anything less than everything you can be"
Snoopy the Musical
Stephen Carlile as Snoopy, Cassidy Janson as Peppermint Patty, Neil Gordon-Taylor as Charlie Brown, Srah Lark as Lucy, Stuart Piper as Linus and Gemma Maclean as Sally Brown (Photo: KWPR)
Snoopy the Musical is as cute as warm puppy. This follow up musical to You're a Good Man Charlie Brown is great entertainment in an egg cup. Playing at London's smallest but cosiest venue, the Jermyn Street Theatre, for only fourteen performances is ZoopZoop's revival of Grossman and Hackady's 1977 charming musical take on the well loved, quirky characters of Charles M Schultz Peanuts cartoon. I think it works for grown ups because, like the contemporary The Simpsons, the original L'il Folks, Snoopy and friends have a satisfyingly adult edge to their humour.

Arthur Whitelaw approached composer Larry Grossman and lyricist Hal Hackady to write a follow up to the earlier Schultz musical, which he felt had only scratched the surface of the available material. In 1985, a production of Snoopy the Musical, which had been much revised after its New York showing of three years earlier, came to the Duchess Theatre in London and ran for 479 performances. Having seen the current production of Snoopy the Musical I can see why it attracted an ongoing audience.

Take a tall lanky boy with a wry look, give him a red collar and a white long sleeved t-shirt, white fingerless gloves and white trousers and a great director and he becomes Schultz's eponymous beagle. Whether he is clambering on to his red kennel or sprawled inside it, he is a loveable and quirky puppy. His songs, complaining about the children's expectations that he should "sit up, lie down, roll over play dead or fetch a stick" or wistfully thinking about his birthplace the puppy farm Daisy Hill, and why his mother never contacts him, have that blend of self interest, sadness and philosophy we have come to associate with Schultz's character.

The music is accessible and tuneful without any sense of derivation but the lyrics are wonderful. Snoopy's big number in the all too short second half of the show, "The Big BowBow" is a classic of bravado and ambition. "I'm gonna be a big bow wow/You're going to see them all kow-tow/Bigger than Rin Tin Tin and Lassie/ . . . . and twice as classy" Whilst the choreography is necessarily small scale, it is always in character and I was charmed by Alice Chilver's vibrant little bird, Woodstock's dance. Joseph Pitcher, the director has nurtured this production from The Rosemary Branch, Islington's pub theatre, initially directing and playing Charlie Brown himself. The set is simplicity itself, a red kennel but the costumes are accurate and recognisable from the cartoons.

The children are played by adults. All are good singers. Cassidy Janson is an "in yer face" Peppermint Patty and belts out her songs, Sarah Lark is a diminutive Lucy and Gemma Maclean as Sally Brown is a typical blonde, not very bright but with lots of attention to clothes and hair, looking like Julie Andrews. Of the boys, Neil Gordon-Taylor has a difficult role to play both as an adult cast as little boy yet conveying Charlie Brown's languor. Stuart Piper, as Linus with the ever present blanket does impart the "cry baby" well. But for me, the star is Stephen Carlile's Snoopy, that interesting mix of being both a participator and an impassioned observer. Whether it is a resigned facial expression or enthusiastic body language puppy limbs, Stephen Carlile has the measure of the egocentric beagle. He illuminated my dog day.

Snoopy the Musical has only a two week slot at Jermyn Street but this production deserves to find a longer run somewhere and I am confident that it will. LINK to Curtain Up's review of the earlier musical based on Charles M Schultz's cartoon Peanuts
You're a Good Man Charlie Brown

Snoopy the Musical
Music by Larry Grossman
Lyrics by Hal Hackady Book by Charles M Schultz Creative Associates, Warren Lockhart, Arthur Whitelaw and Michael L Grace
Directed by Joseph Pitcher

With: Stephen Carlile, Neil Gordon-Taylor, Alice Chilver, Cassidy Janson, Sarah Lark, Gemma Maclean, Stuart Piper
Costume Designer: Susan Pitcher
Set and Lighting Designer: Finuala McNulty
Musical Direction: Matt Malone
Band: Matt Malone and Chris Lowe
Choreography by Joseph Pitcher and Claire Winsper
Running time: One hour forty five minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0870 890 1103
Booking to 26th July 2003
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 17th February 2003 Performance at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Jermyn Street London SW1 (Tube Station: Piccadilly Circus)
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