I spent a very pleasant evening at the theatre this evening. My teenage son’s small school put on a production of the musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” staged at the local Performance Center. The kids ranged in age from 12 to 16, and were for the most part unflappable, brave, in tune, and quite charming. I smiled at them from my darkened seat. I am just – just – old enough to remember when the play first came out, when “Peanuts” mania was in full force. I think the musical made the cover of Life, and I since I read that religiously I recall seeing the stage photographs and being irritated that they had young adults playing children’s roles, and a person playing Snoopy. “WTF?” I said in my little mind, although the “F”would’ve been replaced by “H” for “heck” or something. I was a very sheltered little girl.

Tonight’s play reminded me of my play days. There weren’t any opportunities to be in plays when I was in early grade school, so I “wrote,” directed, and performed my own. The “wrote” is in quotes because what I did was take “Peanuts” comics from the paper, compile them for a few months, then write them as dialogue in some kind of logical order, and stage them, suited for the front of the 2nd Grade classroom blackboard, at the end of the day on a Friday, if allowed. I seem to remember them as going over well – god knows they were better than the stinking “Life Cycle Of A Monarch Butterfly” filmstrips that passed for entertainment.

A couple of years later I horned my way into proper school productions. I was the narrator in “Oliver!” because I was the best reader in the school – that was the casting qualification. This irked the older kids I think, but tough shit – read a book sometimes, you farm clods. Two years later, I was Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” By then I learned this: if you have a main role in a school play, you can get out of most any other schoolwork by simply saying, “I have to rehearse.” I spent most of 6th grade year “rehearsing,” which really was going into the hallway with Hermia and throwing pencils into the asbestos ceiling tiles and reading teen magazines. It was sweet.

Later on, the school talent shows were the thing, and I would write a sketch, dance in another, do a parody country song in another, and do makeup for my friends backstage. Another reason I have poor math skills – SHOWBIZ. If I was going to “rehearse," you can damn well bet Algebra was the class I was going to cut. Ah, such fun we had.

I stopped all that by 10th grade, stopped participating in anything at school at all. I am not exactly sure why I stopped, watched as my other friends continued on with the plays and shows, cheered them but would no longer go onstage. I wasn’t having fun any more at school, didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to give THE MAN anything. Show over.

I hope all the kids I saw this evening continue on just getting out there. It’s a good thing being part of a group, working together, making something happen. I see them now, the whole laughing, hopping, giddy lot of them, actors, crew, and orchestra, head out across the parking lot for their after-party. A big pickup truck goes by, loaded with Snoopy’s big red doghouse. It was good.