"Oh, good grief!"
No three words say Charlie Brown like those, for the oft-conflicted character from the beloved Peanuts comic strip lives a life that forever wavers between wild optimism (good) and utter despair (grief).
In between it all, Charlie Brown is an average, everyday kid. The creative brainchild of Charles M. Schulz, Charlie reflected Schulz's loneliness and insecurity, always feeling true happiness was eternally elusive - but never slowing down in his pursuit of it.
And, truth be told, who among us hasn't felt like Charlie Brown at times? Perhaps that's the biggest reason why ol' Charlie has resonated with so many people worldwide since he was "born" in the early 1950s.
His character comes to life this weekend during the Fox Valley Park District's Winter Stage production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Three shows are on tap at the Prisco Community Center in Aurora with performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
"It's all of the favorite Peanuts comic strips rolled into one big, funny show with music and dance," said Director Nathan Cotter. "If you're a fan of lighthearted musicals that make you laugh, you'll love this show."
The script follows an average day in the life of Charlie Brown, but it's more a collection of priceless moments strung together. The kids in the audience will delight in all the recognizable, lovable characters that portray the openness of early childhood - sister Sally, friends Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Pig Pen, Peppermint Patty and, of course, Charlie's faithful dog, Snoopy.
Their "complicated lives" and the dilemmas they face will take adults back to a simpler time before jobs and bills and domestic duties intervened; back to a time of baseball games, flying kites and curling up with your favorite blanket. Remember when your biggest worry was whether or not the teacher would like your artwork? Or if the little redheaded girl in class would notice you?
Charlie Brown helps us realize what's important in life and takes us back to when the little things made us happy - catching a firefly, devouring ice cream, telling the time, climbing a tree.
Cotter can relate. He grew up performing on the park district stage, starting his performing career as a second-grader. Now he's an adult director, albeit still a little kid at heart.
And that's the beauty of Charlie Brown, which makes this all-ages show a must-see. Today's kids are living Charlie Brown's life. The rest of us have lived it. Good grief! I guess we're all a lot more alike than we think!
Tickets for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" are $6 in advance, $8 at the door. Call (630) 859-8606 for information.
• Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.