'Dog Sees God' drops 'Peanuts' characters into tough times

The Theater Department production will begin its two-week run Thursday.
Senior Andy Rea and sophomore Ian Soble perform during a dress rehearsal of "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" at the Corner Playhouse. The play is scheduled to premiere at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Theater Department is bringing the "Peanuts" cartoon characters back to life — only this time the "Peanuts" gang of our childhood is all grown up and dealing with some heavy issues. Snoopy is dead, Linus is a pothead and Peppermint Patty is a party girl.

"Dog Sees God" is an unauthorized parody of Charles Schulz’s "Peanuts" cartoon. Its plot follows the self-discovery of CB, who begins to question the possibility of an afterlife after his dog dies.

Director Bryan Vandevender said the fact the audience is already well-acquainted with the characters makes the tough themes of the show easier to grasp.

“The playwright took these stories and characters that we already know and twisted them to show universal themes,” Vandevender said. “He took familiar characters that we all knew as kids and made them spokespeople for teen angst.”

"Dog Sees God" is an ensemble piece written by Bert V. Royal, who also wrote the screenplay for the recent blockbuster “Easy A." Vandevender said the small cast of "Dog Sees God" helped make the show more cohesive.

“It’s an ensemble piece which means no one character is more important than another,” he said. “The cast really worked together on every aspect of the play – we did tons of research together on the background of the original "Peanuts" characters and how they would evolve into the characters in 'Dog Sees God.'”

Vandevender said that he hopes this play will inspire an introspective reaction in the audience.

“I think as a director you always want your audience to have the kind of experience that makes them rethink who they are and how they live,” he said. “Drama holds a mirror up to what’s happening in culture, and I think when MU students see this play they’ll recognize themselves and their experience in it.”

Jarrett Seifert, the stage manager for the show said that MU students have a lot to gain from seeing this show.

“I think this show opens the audience’s eyes to how people work and how they can’t really control how they feel or that they’re different,” Seifert said.

Seifert said that the production of the play required everyone to work together.

“Our scene painter was abroad for part of the production, so people who don’t normally paint had to pitch in,” Seifert said. “Also, our cast will be shifting the set between scenes, as opposed to a shift crew.”

Cast member Christopher Carlson who plays Beethoven (Schroeder’s character) said he thinks it is important for college students to think about the themes "Dog Sees God" presents.

“I think MU students will benefit immensely from going to shows that deal with heavier themes like this because it will make them think,” Carlson said. “During the show, I just want the audience to stop and think about everything they’re processing, and by extension of what they’re thinking I want to make them feel.”

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