AMANA - The dog days of summer are simply delightful at the Old Creamery Theatre.
The musical "Snoopy!!!" has earned all of its exclamation points, as the "Peanuts" gang romps through a series of vignettes that give Charles M. Schultz's iconic top dog his day.
The talent runs deep through this cast of seven vibrant young adult actors. Each and every one is a strong singer, dancer and actor with impeccable comic timing.
Actually, we don't hear Woodstock sing, but his actions do. Recent Iowa City High School graduate Elijah Jones is nothing short of spectacular flitting through every emotion imaginable. He mimes really smart comedic choices in everything from his flapping his tiny little wings to trying to peck open an envelope.
Director Sean McCall's hilarious hand is all over this production. A master of physical comedy, he infuses the choreography and punctuates the action with little bits of brilliance that elicited giggle fits from the young and young at heart at Thursday's opening matinee (7/17/14). The family-friendly show, featuring $10 tickets for kids ages 5 to 18, continues through Aug. 10.
Putting a "kid show" in a Mainstage slot might seem like a bit of a box office gamble, but this is not a "kid show." It's a show that appeals to all ages, from those who grew up with Charlie Brown and friends to those who are discovering the fun and foibles of Chuck's childhood for the first time.
The music is engaging and energetic from beginning to end - alternating between poignant, inspirational and hilarious. The schoolroom segment even offers a lesson in sonic sophistication, as all the voices weave in and out, then dogpile on each other in "Edgar Allan Poe."
Ryan Gaffney sparkles in the title role. He's a glib song and dance man, shuffling with style through soft-shoe numbers, expertly accented by a tip of his top hat and cane.
McCall makes good use of the script's natural Vaudevillian feel, taking every opportunity to turn each little scene into a stand-alone moment that makes a statement before moving on. It's like watching two hours of comic strip panels fly by, linked by common characters and kicky music.
Familiar moments bring out the warm fuzzies for "Peanuts" fans, including a Great Pumpkin patch vigil, the Easter Beagle's deliveries, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and Miss Othmar's teacherly womp-womps.
The little girls sitting next to me got the biggest kick out of hearing Peppermint Patty call Charlie Brown "poor sweet baby" in a heartwarming song that ends with a punch. Morgan Amiel Faulkner brings a big voice and plenty of spunk to her Patty, and Old Creamery favorite Jeff Haffner nails Charlie Brown's woebegone ways.
Sara Kenny is sassy, brassy and bossy as Lucy, Jillian Kuhl counters her with sweetness as Charlie's little sister, Sally, and Joshua Jones has great fun with his epic washday meltdown as blanket-toting Linus.
Classic costumes, a giant red doghouse center-stage and a trio of piano, bass and drums add plenty of pow to this big bowwow.
IF YOU GO
WHERE: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana
WHEN: Through Aug. 10; 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
TICKETS: Tickets: $28 adults and $10 ages 5 to 18, at the Box Office, (319) 622-6262 or Oldcreamery.com