Kelrik Productions brings 'Charlie Brown' to Clark Center

Theater group still looking for a permanent home

Special to The TribuneApril 11, 2014 

The cast of Kelrik Productions’ "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

SANDRA CORTEZ PHOTOGRAPHY

Kelrik Productions continues its season of family-friendly shows with “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” The characters from the “Peanuts” comic strip come to life with comedy, songs and dance in the Studio Theatre in the Clark Center.

Despite losing their home theater when Unity in San Luis Obispo was sold, the Kelrik troupers have moved from theater to theater in the region to continue to perform shows that please kids and adults alike. This one is for all ages, said Erik Austin, artistic director, choreographer and actor. He plays Linus, the kid with the blanket.

Youngsters will enjoy the lively scenario on a physical level, with the comical action and the songs and dances, while adults will appreciate the clever dialogue as the characters deal with situations and problems that we can all relate to, Austin said.

Lester Wilson directs the show and notes that “the ‘Peanuts’ characters are kids, of course, and kids love them. But they deal with philosophy, psychology, sibling rivalry and even blanket-separation anxiety. There’s a bit of these characters in every one of us. Who hasn’t wanted to try one more time to kick that football? We’ve all been Charlie Brown, and Linus, and Lucy, and even Snoopy.”

Subtitled “A Day in the Life of Charlie Brown,” the musical covers familiar “Peanuts” dilemmas. Will Charlie Brown fly his kite? Will Schroeder give in to Lucy’s romantic advances? And what does Snoopy think of all this as he observes from the roof of his doghouse?

The roles are played by adults dressed and coiffed as the cartoon kids.

“As actors, we interpret the classic cartoon iconic figures, like Charlie Brown, and attempt to capture and convey their childlike qualities,” Austin explained.

The set is enhanced by projections of the locations of some of the vignettes, such as the baseball field, and figures of the cartoon characters are set up by the stage.

Christian Clarno plays Charlie Brown, Taylor Peters is Lucy Van Pelt, Ali Peters is Sally, Redzuan Abdul Rahim is Schroeder, and Jeff Salsbury is Snoopy. Several of the actors, including Austin, have played the roles before.

Although Austin is busy with other projects, his goal is to see Kelrik continue to perform on the Central Coast. He has taken some of his shows to Los Angeles, where they are performed in El Portal Theatre in Hollywood. The 400-seat theater has always been sold out, and he has been offered a contract to continue shows there.

Austin also teaches in San Luis Obipso at Montessori Children’s School and Laguna Middle School, and is directing the upcoming Opera San Luis Obispo production of “Show Boat.”

Austin could relocate to L.A., but his heart is on the Central Coast, where Kelrik has had a loyal following and he has watched kids begin their performing in his shows and then go on to careers in theater.

“We have developed an amazing team, and some of them have gone to L.A. to help me there,” Austin said.

The season has used the theater at Cuesta College and Spanos Theatre at Cal Poly, but renting such spaces is expensive.

“We continue our search for a permanent home in San Luis Obispo. We are actively seeking any and all avenues available,” Austin said. “The cost of doing shows, without a permanent venue, is significantly higher. Therefore, the length of the show’s run is cut shorter and we must seek financial sponsors to help cover the increased costs. We are currently working on a fundraising campaign in order to be able to produce our final show of the season, ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.’ ”

Austin hasn’t confirmed a venue for “Beauty and the Beast,” and said he hopes it will be just the final show of the season, and not the finale of Kelrik Productions.

IF YOU GO

“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”
2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through April 27
Clark Center, 487 Fair Oaks Ave., Arroyo Grande
$20 to $30
489-9444 or www.kelrikproductions.org

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