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Backstage with Maria Benzie, aka Snoopy

By • Feb 24th, 2007 • Category: Interviews, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

We continue our shadowing of the Springfield Community Theatre’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by talking with Maria Benzie, who is playing Snoopy [MP3 6:53 2MB]. Or read the transcript of the chat.

Mike: Hi, this is Mike with ShowBizRadio and I am backstage talking with Maria Benzie who is playing Snoopy at Springfield Community Theatre’s upcoming production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Thanks for talking with me.

Maria: Thanks for having me.

Mike: What is it like playing Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown?

Maria: It is definitely a different role than I’ve ever played. I don’t think I’ve ever played a dog. I’ve played a butterfly before and a mouse in other children’s theater productions. The dog is definitely different and I enjoy it because it’s different than any other role in the show. All the other actors are playing people so I get to be kind of different.

Mike: How did you get the part? Did you try for Snoopy or were you trying for one of the other parts?

Maria: I did try for Snoopy actually. It was either Snoopy or Lucy I was interested in. I put down on the audition form that I was interested in Snoopy. I prepared a song that would reflect the characteristics they were looking for in that character. And they called me up and said we would like to offer you Snoopy. I was excited.

Mike: What kind of background do you have in musical theater? You’ve done a butterfly and some other creatures like that. Sounds like you’ve got a lot of experience back there.

Maria: I have a degree in Music Theater from Shanenndoah University. After I graduated from there I auditioned for Theatre IV out of Richmond, Virginia. I was in several children’s theater productions with music in them. The one with the butterfly and the mouse was Thumbelina. That was the first show that I was in. I got to play about four or five different characters. It was very exciting, very challenging for me as an actor to change quickly and to learn all those different roles.

Mike: I would think it would be tricky to change personalities from character to character in the same show.

Maria: Yeah, it’s a little tricky, but you just roll with it. You get used to it. I’m pretty good at that quick personality change kind of thing.

Mike: What’s the personality of Snoopy?

Maria: Snoopy is very multi-faceted. He can be happy. He’s primarily, he’s a pretty happy dog. He’s been around a little bit longer than the kids. He’s been kind of a cynic at times. I approached it from more of a grown up perspective than a child perspective. He can be happy. He can be depressing. He can be pretty insightful. He’s got lots of different personalities. I kind of approached him from a manic depressive point of view.

Mike: I kind of see that in the opening number when you’re talking about the round headed kid. Then you get that joy from Suppertime. That’s a totally fun number. Was that a hard one to learn and to work on?

Maria: That was hard. It only came together this past week with the choreography and the music and everything. That’s been an exciting piece to put together in the last week. It’s challenging me as an actor and a dancer. I’m primarily an actor/singer and a pretty good mover. It’s been a little challenging, but it’s been fun.

Mike: Do you prefer plays over musicals or musicals over plays?

Maria: I like the musicals because singing is probably my my strongest suit. I’m a pretty strong singer, but I’ve been doing theater longer. I’ve been doing theater since I was six or seven. I just started taking professional lessons when I was fifteen. I didn’t really think it would take off the way it did. You get the right teacher and it just comes pretty easily to me. It’s been very rewarding.

Mike: Do you have a dream role you would just love to do?

Maria: Oh, yes. My favorite show is Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim. I would love to play Mrs. Lovett or Lucy, aka The Beggar Lady or just be in the chorus of that show. I absolutely love that show. It’s so dark. I love gothic shows, dark shows like that.

Mike: I think Spencer said the same thing. He wants to be in Sweeney Todd.

Maria: We were talking about that the other day. We’re probably going to go audition for it if it comes round anytime soon.

Mike: Is there anything you’d like to share with people who might come to see Charlie Brown?

Maria: I think the biggest advice I can give to an audience is just have fun. You don’t have to just sit there and not say anything. In fact in a fun production like this the actors, well maybe not for all actors, but for myself, I love it when people exclaim. You don’t want to distract the actors too much. But when they’re getting into the spirit and they exclaim things like, “Oh my gosh. That’s so cute!” And they clap. Clap away. We love applause. We feed off of that energy from the audience. It’s going to be great to have an audience in there.

Mike: You’ve got one more rehearsal and then you’re opening tomorrow. Does it feel like it’s gone by really quickly at the rehearsal time?

Maria: We only had about five or six weeks from the audition date to put this whole thing together. I’m so glad we have such a talented cast of actors because it’s made the whole process a lot easier. We’ve got Lucy and Sally. They’re only twelve years old. I can’t believe how well they’re doing. When I was twelve I couldn’t do that well. They’re really talented girls and I think they’re going to do really well in this piece.

Mike: Thanks very much for talking with me today.

Maria: Alright, thank you.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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