NEW YORK — After being translated into 21 languages, immortalized in the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and analyzed endlessly by academics, who saw it as everything from an extension of existentialist philosophy to a parable about Christian ethics, the “Peanuts” comic strip is being reinvented yet again. Today, an “unauthorized parody,” called “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” opens off-Broadway at the Century Center for the Performing Arts at 111 East 15th Street. The play features a lead named CB, a dog that has terminal rabies and enough “on the verge” actors to fill an entire entertainment issue of Teen People. Here’s a cheat sheet about four of its young stars.
Eddie Kaye Thomas, 25
Began acting: “When I was seven, I did a play called ‘New Jersey, New York,'” says the actor, who starred as Finch in the “American Pie” series.
Relationship to his character: He never owned a dog, but he found much to identify with in the play. “It’s a love story,” he says, “a little ‘Catcher in the Rye’-esque, about that thing that happens when you realize your parents aren’t superheroes.”
Eliza Dushku, 24
Character: Van’s sister, a takeoff on Lucy.
Began acting: At the age of 10, she got the lead in a movie called “That Night,” but she’s better known for playing Faith on the television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Missy Pantone in the cheerleading flick “Bring It On.”
Relationship to her character: “I was driven, tyrannical, precocious and as loud as it gets. I was always therapizing other people’s problems.”
America Ferrera, 21
Character: CB’s sister, based on Sally.
Began acting: At age seven in a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” “I played the apothecary,” says Ferrera, whose career has been on the ascent since her role as Carmen in this year’s “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”
This story first appeared in the December 16, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Relationship to her character: “I’m the youngest of six kids, so I know what it’s like to be the younger sibling. She’s searching by herself and doesn’t fit in at all.”
Ian Somerhalder, 27
Began acting: At the age of six as Rolfe in a school production of “The Sound of Music.” Then he got his break in 2004 on the ABC drama “Lost,” playing Boone Carlyle, a guy who eventually dies a particularly grisly death before the end of season one.
Relationship to his character: “He’s based on Pigpen. Now he’s a complete germa-phobe. I’m totally OCD.” To say the least, it’s a stretch from “Lost,” on which he played a character whose only baths were in the ocean, but who never lost the gym body. “They’re eating fruit and pork. It’s only one day an episode,” he laughs. “So after one season, it’s only day 35.”