Student-run play focuses on “Peanuts” characters

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Collin Culiver’s dog died two days before the “Dog Sees God” auditions.

The play opens with lead character CB’s dog dying.

Though Culiver had only prepared auditions for the characters Matt and Van and hadn’t even read over CB’s lines, Culiver received the lead role.

“I came into the audition clouded,” the freshman theatre major said. “I’m bad at sharing feelings as a person, so having the ability to express those feelings through this medium was something really cool for me.”

The entirely student-run play depicts the “Peanuts” characters as high school students, most of which are graduating soon, including CB (Charlie Brown).

As teenagers, the characters use different names than they did in the “Peanuts” comics.

The play never directly reveals who they are until the end, when the characters come out wearing their characters’ outfits from the original comics.

“It’s kind of like a movie where after you watch it the first time and you know the ending,” Culiver said. “If you watch it a second time, it’s better because you get all the hints that are dropped.”

It’s obvious who some of the characters are, such as CB and his sister, he said. But some characters are more difficult to guess.

Some of the characters grow up exactly the way people would think they would, while other characters end up totally opposite from how they were as kids, Culiver said.

“I think each character has their own cool kind of progression that you see when growing up,” he said. “It’s like seeing an old friend that you haven’t seen in awhile.”

After CB’s dog dies, he begins asking all the other characters what happens after someone dies.

Some characters’ answers are serious while others are humorous, Culiver said.

The entire story takes place in a letter CB is writing to a pen-pal, he said.

CB questions his sexuality and eventually becomes involved with another character.

Parker Hart, who plays Matt, CB’s best friend, doesn’t want CB to change.

“The overarching theme of the show is just change, how we grow as people or how we don’t grow as people unfortunately,” the freshman philosophy and theatre double major said.

Hart warned his family about bringing his younger sister to see the play because it’s so vulgar, he said.

“There’s a lot of homophobic slurs, especially from my character,” he said. “But it is interesting for me to play a homophobic character when I have two moms.”

Though he’s never played an antagonist before, Hart said he’s always had a penchant for villains.

“In ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ I always really liked the Phantom,” he said. “In ‘Frankenstein,’ I always really liked Frankenstein’s monster.”

Despite being completely opposite from his character, Hart said he learned he and Matt weren’t so different after all.

“You can find a piece of yourself in each character you act,” he said.

Whether it’s the stoner, the popular girl or the bully, everyone in the audience will be able to find themselves in the play, Hart said.

“You will see not only how the characters have grown,” he said, “but I think you’ll take a look at yourself a little bit, too.”

Fast Facts

Time: 7:30 p.m. March 17-19

Location: Mallette Studio Theatre in the lower level of the Liberal Arts Center

Cost: Free