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September 21, 2023

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Local theatre group Lionface Productions will put on “Dog Sees God”

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what someone’s favorite childhood characters would look like as teenagers.

But sometimes it’s possible to see what that might look like.

In December, Lionface Productions, a community theatre company based in Bowling Green, is putting on “Dog Sees God,” an unauthorized parody of the popular comic strip, “Peanuts.”

As a company, Lionface Productions started in 2009 and is currently in its fifth season, said Michael Portteus, the artistic director.

“It was really started because all of us are performers; all of us are theater practitioners in some way. We were sort of tired of waiting around for people to kind of do the shows that we wanted to do,” Portteus said. “We decided that instead of complaining about it, we should do them.”

Ryan Albrecht, the director of “Dog Sees God” and the vice chairman of Lionface’s board of directors, said the company stands out from others in the community.

“We are a bit different from all of the other community theaters in town and really in the area and that’s [because] all of our actors are typically pretty young by comparison,” Albrecht said. “The type of work we do appeals to the college crowd a little bit more. We heavily invest on Shakespeare, both from a Shakespeare in the park standpoint and with educating young actors and audiences.”

Abbey Casino, the assistant director of “Dog Sees God,” thinks that by working with Lionface, she has a learning experience that is away from the University that also allows students who aren’t necessarily involved in theater to be a part of the production.

“It’s been a really cool learning experience and that says it all. We do have a younger crowd,” Casino said. “It’s also really nice being in school— I’m currently [working on] my theater major and it’s nice having a theater outlet that’s not just at the school. It’s also nice having one because you don’t have to be working in theater to do community theater.”

Lionface also provides a space where full, original works can be developed and performed, along with performing theater dealing with topics that might not be performed normally.

“We don’t get a lot of Shakespeare in this town. That’s something we focus on. There’s not a lot of places for full original works to be done, so that’s something we focused on,” Portteus said. “Theater that touches on broader, social issues— maybe things that are sometimes difficult to watch or maybe sometimes things are a bit more controversial than what other companies are comfortable doing.”

Lionface’s next production, “Dog Sees God” is the “Peanuts” characters in high school 10 years after the comic strip.

“There’s a lot of things people forget about the ‘Peanuts.’ It’s one of the first times that children spoke like adults and it’s something that is completely taken for granted now, because it’s already happened, because that kind of motif has been used again and again,” Portteus said. “It seems commonplace now, but these were children who for the first time ever, had fully-fledged adult ideas and feelings presented to a nationwide audience. This is taking that same intellect and sort of seeing what happens when they’re allowed to do something they were never able to do decades in comic strips.”

The play deals with heavy topics, from suicide, to drugs, alcohol, underage sex and rape, Albrecht said.

“It’s very easy to write it off as another emo teen show … I think by telling it through the lens of these ‘Peanuts’ characters who spoke with such wisdom and are one of the mainstays of popular culture and everyone has already identified with a couple of them,” Albrecht said.

While the play touches on heavy topics, it is also nostalgic.

“It is really nostalgic because of the idea of the ‘Peanuts’ characters but also because there are issues that almost everyone can relate to in the show. There’s a lot packed into it and I think it’s handed in a smart way,” Casino said.

“Dog Sees God” is Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. at 123 Court St. Admission costs have not been decided yet.

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