Peanuts-inspired Play Stars Degrassi Leads Darkly funny New York hit satire is headed here in March
Dec 08, 2008
Richard Ouzounian | Theatre Critic

Did you know that Charlie Brown went to Degrassi High when he grew up?

That's the impression you may get when a show called Dog Sees God opens in March.

Producer Michael Rubinoff is really playing the Degrassi card by casting four of the leads in his production with alumni from the wildly popular show Degrassi: The Next Generation: Jake Epstein, Adamo Ruggiero, Mike Lobel and Paula Brancati.

Loosely inspired by the iconic comic strip Peanuts, the free-wheeling satire was a big hit with New York audiences from the moment it premiered at the New York Fringe in 2004 through its opening off-Broadway the following year.

A guy known as "C.B." has to cope with issues of mortality once his beloved dog is put down after killing his pet bird. (Snoopy fans, you're out of luck.) In his search for answers, he exchanges comic insights with carefully disguised figures like "Beethoven," the classical-music freak facing recently discovered issues of childhood sexual abuse; "Van," the kid who once clutched a blanket and now tokes a constant doobie, and Van's sister, now a pyromaniac placed in a padded cell after she set The Little Red-Haired Girl's hair on fire.

Get the picture? It's way past meta and all the way out the other side into surreal. The gang from Peanuts have had their identities shaken up in the name of good dirty fun and their names changed in the interests of avoiding a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Who else surfaces from the past? C.B.'s super cute sister is now a hateful Goth; Peppermint Patty now parties so hard she could give lessons to the Lohan girl and the Artist Formerly Known as Pig-Pen is now a homophobic clean freak named Matt who puts Purell everywhere (and I mean everywhere!).

The original New York production got a jolt of welcome media hype from the presence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer regular Eliza Dushku in the cast, but that's nothing compared with the Degrassi tsunami that Rubinoff is bringing to the Toronto production.

The show is set to open for a strictly limited four-week run on March 13 at Six Degrees, 2335 Yonge St.

The female audience members at Ross Petty's Cinderella who have been swooning over Epstein as Prince Charming will probably be the first in line to buy tickets.

Maybe they should change the name to "You're a Hot Dude, Charlie Brown."

Source: Toronto Star