I have known Snoopy and his rag tag gang of friends ever since I was a little girl. I grew up reading “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” and I would watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” every Halloween. So, you can bet your bottom dollar I was insanely excited to see the world premiere of The World According to Snoopy. I sat down, ready to see something that was new, yet still familiar, and I am happy to say I was not disappointed. Texas State University has an absolutely amazing theatre program, so really I shouldn’t be surprised that TXST was chosen have the world premiere of this show. Sitting down in that theater was just so welcoming.
The audience was a great mix of both children and adults, which I believe is very important for a premier of a show, they need to gauge the reaction and the demographics, and I can tell that they pretty much found it. This is a show that is perfect for young children and their families. There’s the bright pretty colors and the perfectly executed comedy for the kids, while the parents can appreciate the pure amount of talent, skills and the craftsman ship of the entire production. Just seeing the little kids bouncing around after the show, super excited and dancing and trying to sing some of the songs.
Something that I was hyper aware of were opinions of some of my friends. They told me that I wouldn’t like this show because it “has no plot.” Having seen the show and having read a lot of the Peanuts comic strips, it is very clear that this show was way more like one of the comics. The scenes would sort of just build up to the punch line, much like the comic strips, and that was something that I really appreciated.I must say though, as entertaining as act one was, act two had the heart of this show, and that is where it was the strongest.
There were also complaints about the songs, and I semi understand that I think that some din’t entirely fit the characters. For example: “Where Did That Little Dog Go?” was a beautiful song, but it just felt like something a father would sing to his grown daughter, walking her down the aisle. And I think that”I Know Now” had a really clever idea, showing just how different Patty was from the rest of the girls, but I think it could have gone a couple of steps further to really emphasize that Patty is more of a tomboy. But in my opinion, overall there were a great range of songs that had both comedy and that emotional punch that was needed for a show like this.
Our title dog was played by Ryne Nardecchia, and this man is ready for Broadway. Snoopy is a well trained dog, and taking that sort of role and translating it to a well trained actor, singer, and dancer was genius. There was something about this interpretation of Snoopy that felt almost cold to the kids, which just doesn’t seem like Snoopy from what I remember from my childhood; nevertheless it was a very funny interpretation of the character and the amount of sass that was given was very well done. Not to mention that there were moments watching the interactions between Snoopy and Woodstock that felt almost like I was watching a performance of Cats, the dancing that was done by these “animals” was to die for, plus Nardecchia was giving me major Rum Tum Tugger vibes which is something I’m always down with.
Woodstock, Snoopy’s partner in crime was portrayed in pantomime by Nick Eisler. The amount of movement work that Eisler was doing was mind blowing; he was throwing crazy breakdance moves onto that stage like it was nothing. Eisler’s moments acting out what Snoopy was writing in “The Great Writer” was the definition of a perfect pantomime. To be completely honest I could have watched an entire show of “The Great Writer” just to see more because it was truly that good.
When it came to the children you had: Charlie Brown, Sally Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Peppermint Patty. These actors were absolutely fantastic, some stand outs for me were Adria Swan as Peppermint Patty and Ty Hunter Taylor as Linus. Watching these two felt like I was watching Patty and Linus jump off of the page. Swan’s Patty was that perfect mix of rough and heartfelt that can be incredibly hard to do well. Her voice is something that most performers would kill to have and she gave this inherent beauty to “Poor Sweet Baby” that not many could.
Taylor’s Linus was straight up sass. The one liners that they wrote for this character had me floored. His voice is fantastic and his voice in his solo song “The Vigil” had this immense energy and hopefulness in it. His physicality on the dreaded “laundry day” was beautiful. Something that Taylor brought to Linus was this under current of energy that would almost erupt at certain times was a welcomed addition to this character.
The set was a perfect example of “less is more”. The use of cubes and color was so simple and yet still so complex when it comes to the feelings that they portrayed. Snoopy’s dog house was larger than life; it was made from a textured plexiglass that was lit up to glow red. Having the house made in this way made it felt far more welcoming and warm instead of the glaring, almost violent red that I have seen from other productions.
The use of projections was done so tastefully. I have seen productions that use projections for EVERYTHING and it infuriates me, but having the projections used as a garnish was done so incredibly well. There was a moment going into “Daisy Hill” that the screens went out and had a lot of static going, but the technicians worked it out flawlessly and it was back to working conditions in a matter of seconds.
Truly, I could go on about this show for days, but there’s only so many synonyms I can find for the word “perfect”. Bravo to Texas State for putting on a fantastic show, and a huge round of applause to the company of the world premiere of The World According to Snoopy.