Good grief — is grief good?
Las Vegas Little Theatre is now in rehearsals for Bert V. Royal's "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead," opening May 9. Surely, the word "blockhead" is a dead giveaway. This is Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts gang, strained through the filter of gritty real life. Aged to near adulthood, they cope with alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual orientation, homophobia and The Big Questions. Well ... the late Charles Schulz's beloved characters always dealt with existential conundrums. all the more intriguing because it came out of the proverbial mouths of babes.
But "Dog Sees God" — clearly labeled by its author as "unauthorized" — was written after Schulz's death. and you've got to wonder how Schulz's family feels about it. The Schulz clan already protested loudly over the publication of the biography, "Charles Schulz and Peanuts," claiming distortions and lies (after reading it, I must say so much of what bothers them — primarily the depiction of his massive ego masked as insecurity, social awkwardness and emotional distance — rings true for a lot of creative folk).
After looking over the play, it's clear Schulz would've ... LOATHED IT. But it's a gutsy idea. Though the characters are renamed, it's clear who they are. Brace yourself: The Snoppy stand-in is put to sleep after a grisly attack on Woodstock. Van (Linus) is a stoner. Beethoven (Schroeder) may be gay. Matt (Pig-Pen) has become a pathological neat freak, and homophobic, viciously beating up Beethoven. Van's sister (Lucy Van Pelt) is a pyromaniac institutionalized for setting the Little Red-Haired Girl's flame-colored locks literally aflame. And C.B. (Charlie Brown) is still as existentially befuddled as ever.
Theoretically, this lifelong Peanuts fans loves it. In practice and LVLT's execution, well, we'll see. But Schulz's family must be madder than Lucy during that time of the month. And Schulz himself must be cursing from atop Snoppy's Sopwith Camel in the Sky.