Snoopy!!! presented by Miranda Musical Society is a colourful and cute adventure to the theatre set to give all ages a smile and a giggle. Following the well known Peanuts characters created by Charles M Schulz, the production is a series of vignettes (not unlike the cartoon strips themselves) across the four seasons. In two acts, the audience sees different snapshots throughout the lives of the adorable characters. While the musical itself is very ordinary, what Tim Dennis, his creative team and the cast produced is highly commendable and recommended for families who are after a fun night out at the theatre.
Direction by Tim Dennis was seamless and simple and worked well to complement the feel of the show. Adam Foster's band and tight vocals made for a very well polished and beautiful sounding production. A massive congratulations to Madison Larsen who debuted as choreographer; her work was well thought out, entertaining and effective. In particular, her choreography in Don't Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be complemented the style of the show as well as the young characters and made for the most entertaining number in the production.
The bold colours in the set and costuming personified the cartoon-like style of the show. The sound was very well balanced and at no point was the audience struggling to hear over a dominating band. There were a few "dead" sections of light on the stage where the performers were covered by shadow, however, this was a minute detail in retrospect to the entire production. Snoopy's The Big Bow Wow had excellent lighting design and the use of projection throughout the show helped the audience journey through the seasons as well as complement the cartoon world the production was set in.
Every cast member was committed to character and it was obvious that they were all completely invested in the production. Louis Vinciguerra played Charlie Brown and demonstrated an adorable display of various "confused" expressions. His vocals throughout, and especially in the opening number, were very impressive. Paul Tuohy played an adorable and believable Linus and threw one very impressive tantrum when his iconic blanket was taken on "wash day". Playing his brash and sassy sister, Lucy Van Pelt, was the talented Alexis Hutchinson. With powerhouse vocals, and an iconic "hands on hips" power pose, Hutchinson showed us all sides to the confident and matter-of-fact Lucy and left us with many laugh out loud moments. Jess Punch played the sporty Peppermint Patty in green with subtle cuteness packed with a powerful "WHAT?!" to anyone who disrupted her day. Her infatuation with Charlie Brown coupled with her sweet songs were delightful to watch throughout. Tamana Rita played Sally Brown and executed her sweet yet confident personality perfectly. Like the others, Rita demonstrated impressive vocals and an excellent commitment to character.
Jess Punch as Peppermint Patty and Louis Vinciguerra as Charlie Brown
Nathan Farrow played Snoopy and provided a highly entertaining performance. His little "snoopy-isms" in the background (a raised eyebrow or two) blended seamlessly with his hilarious and heartfelt solos. He engaged with the audience and broke the fourth wall, jumped on the kennel and even caught a hat and cane, he sang well and performed Larsen's choreography with ease. Farrow's performance really held the entire production together. However, the stand out performance was definitely by the incredible Blake Bennett as Woodstock. He didn't say a single word, and yet the audience were audibly excited whenever he came on stage. Children and adults were laughing at something as simple as a little walk offstage. I only wish he hadn't joined the cast to sing on stage at the end. I personally thought he could have stood next to them, closed mouth, and rounded off a beautifully expressive and articulate performance, but this is my own personal opinion, and the singing didn't take away from his performance or the show as a whole. Bennett's performance was a perfect example that you don't have to play a lead role to stand out and steal the show.
Snoopy!!! Was a fun night out at the theatre. I commend Miranda Musical Society for giving so many performers the chance to take on bigger roles in a musical, and for getting such a well-polished show together in such a short amount of time. In a unique theatre like the Sutherland Memorial School of Arts, it's important for the creative team to adjust blocking to play 'down' or 'out' to the audience below, rather than up to the audience as performers would in most theatres; some of the sight lines were lost for my five-foot-tall self in the audience (especially in a show that breaks the fourth wall so much - Nathan Farrow nailed this!). Again, I didn't think much of the musical itself, but the dedication from the production team and cast really turned the production into something much more than it could have been. This is definitely a family show and one to take the kids to!!