Lower Lights Theatre Co. puts adults on stage in ‘Charlie Brown’

Lower Lights Theatre Co. puts adults on stage in ‘Charlie Brown’

The production opening Feb. 29 may not be the first “Charlie Brown” of the season — Fort Smith Little Theatre wraps theirs today. But it is the first of its kind for Bentonville-based Lower Lights Theatre Company.

“Up to this point, we hadn’t done a show featuring adult performers, and we wanted to make sure everyone understood that Lower Lights is for performers of all ages, not just children,” says Cheri Moore, executive director and one of the founders of the company. “The mission of Lower Lights Theatre Company is to provide opportunities for children, youth, adults, and families in Northwest Arkansas to collaborate in, perform and attend quality artistic works with high standards and to develop and celebrate God-given talents.

“We are focused on bringing uplifting, family friendly theater productions to our community where families can perform together and attend together,” she elaborates. “And Charlie Brown and all his friends are beloved characters that so many people are drawn to.”

Lower Lights was organized in May 2022 because “founders saw a need for family focused theater and performing arts opportunities in the Bentonville area,” Moore says. “We believe that everyone has talents — they just need a place to use them! So we created that space for performers of all ages to discover, develop and share their talents.

“Of course, with theater,” she adds, “there are also many other roles that are available for people … such as in set production, costuming, lighting/sound tech, marketing, graphic design, etc. It is so rewarding to be a part of something where literally everyone gets to shine.”

Lower Lights’ first productions were two annual “Night of the Stars Community Talent Showcases” featuring performers of all ages, Moore says.

“‘Night of the Stars’ is an exciting community event that invites performers with a variety of talents to perform for a live audience,” Moore explains. “From vocalists to instrumentalists, dancers to ventriloquists, this is a fun show that gives a space for all types of performers. … Auditions for our annual Night of the Stars Community Talent Showcase will be held in September. It’s time to start preparing!”

Last summer, Lower Lights held its first Camp Lighthouse summer camp season, during which campers performed “The Claw” and “The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever,” Moore says, and registration is live for this summer at lowerlightstheatre.org/campregistration. The curriculum includes Musical in a Week Camp and Stage Crew Camp, both “immersive experiences into the world of musical theater,” she says.

Lower Lights also has a fall musical planned with auditions the week of July 22.

But right now, it’s all about six adult actors and a six-musician orchestra taking audiences back to the simpler days of childhood.

“Our lead performer, Conner Paulson, has appeared in other musicals in his youth, including ‘Bye, Bye Birdie,’ ‘The Music Man’ and ‘Hello Dolly,’” Moore says. “Other than Liz Stoneking, who plays Sally, the remaining performers are starring in their first musical with ‘Charlie Brown.’”

Under the direction of Diane Smith of Bella Vista, with music direction by Emily Tran, “the show itself is hilarious, fun, and engaging, and really allows the audience to either reconnect with their childhood or see the world through a child’s eyes,” Moore says. “Children will be delighted by the hilarious antics of Snoopy, the sassy portrayal of Sally, the woebegone expressions of Charlie Brown, and more.”

Moore is also excited about an adaptive performance at 2 p.m. March 2, intended for “friends in our community who experience disability, have sensory sensitivities, or would enjoy a theater experience without the extremes.” It means there will be no blackouts or flashing lights, quieter music and sound effects and more space between guests.

“Our performers are all prepped to have extra noise and movement in the audience,” Moore adds, “so it’s OK if audience members need to fidget, sit on the floor, get up and walk, call out, or chatter during the show.

“We know some of our friends have a hard time attending musicals because the music and microphones are too loud, the lights are too bright or too dark, the seats are too close together, the aisles are too small, and it can be hard to be quiet and sit still,” she says. “This performance is designed for these friends and their families, and is also open to the public.”



‘You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Feb. 29 & March 1; 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. March 2

WHERE — Canvas Church, 1106 N.W. 10th St. in Bentonville

COST — $15-$22

INFO — lowerlightstheatre.org/charliebrown

Categories: Family Friendly