It's a dog's life, Charlie Brown

The creator of Snoopy! The Musical is bringing the Peanuts gang back to London

The Broadway director Arthur Whitelaw, who created
Snoopy! The Musical, is to direct its 21st anniversary production in London. "It is a show that is very dear to my heart," says Whitelaw, who last directed the musical in 1983, first on Broadway, with Lorna Luft as Peppermint Patty, and then in London's West End. Whitelaw wrote
Snoopy! as a sequel to his 1967 adaptation of the
Peanuts comic strip,
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

The Broadway director Arthur Whitelaw, who created Snoopy! The Musical, is to direct its 21st anniversary production in London. "It is a show that is very dear to my heart," says Whitelaw, who last directed the musical in 1983, first on Broadway, with Lorna Luft as Peppermint Patty, and then in London's West End. Whitelaw wrote Snoopy! as a sequel to his 1967 adaptation of the Peanuts comic strip, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

"These days, there are about 300 productions of Snoopy! around the world each year, and more like 2,000 productions of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," enthuses Whitelaw. And that's not all he has to be pleased about: the man who gave Liza Minnelli her first stage role, opposite Christopher Walken in Best Foot Forward, and cast Jodie Foster in Tom Sawyer, is celebrating 50 years in showbusiness this year.

Snoopy! brings the creations of Charles Schulz to life with a big band, jazz-style score by Larry Grossman and Hal Hackaday. White-law's fascination with Peanuts goes back to when he was 16. "I just knew that it could be a musical. I tried to get the rights to no avail," he says. "But when I was 26, a girlfriend played me the album You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and I immediately rang the composer/lyricist Clark Gesner who had no intentions of turning his songs into a stage musical until I convinced him. He also had Schulz's telephone number. It just shows how some things are meant to be. So I called up Schulz. There was this pause and then he said I could make his comic strip into a musical. Well, the rest is history."

Whitelaw knew Schulz for more than 30 years. "He was the loveliest person I ever met. He looked like a grown-up version of Charlie Brown. But he was not funny in person; he lived in his own world. Seven days a week, he sat in his studio and he drew and thought up these strips for nearly 50 years." All of Schulz's characters were based on his fellow students at art school. "At a production in Minneapolis, I met most of them," says Whitelaw. "They came up to me and introduced themselves during the interval."

Now, Robin Armstrong is to make his West End debut in the title role. How does somebody play Snoopy, exactly? "He plays it like a comic dog, but not in animal costume - because Snoopy is really not a dog, but a human, as is Woodstock," says Whitelaw. "Woodstock's all in yellow, but not in a feathered costume of any kind."

The set is a multicoloured impression of a child's world "with a comic-strip feel to it". But Whitelaw points out that this is also a show with sophisticated jokes that adults can enjoy. "Schultz was a gifted observer of life. Peanuts is so much more than a comic strip. It is about real life."

'Snoopy! The Musical', New Players Theatre, London WC2 (0870 033 2626) from tomorrow

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea