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Casting ‘Charlie’ a diverse endeavor

Rapp, Wong could ink Charlie, Linus roles

NEW YORK — Producers of the upcoming Broadway revival of tuner “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” have inked deals for much of the cast, and are close to closing deals with Anthony Rapp and B.D. Wong for the roles of Charlie and Linus, respectively.

Snoopy, however, remains at large.

The cast will be decidedly more ethnically diverse than the 1967 show of the same name, according to helmer Michael Mayer, who is also currently directing “Sideman” on Broadway.

For starters, a deal has been inked with Stanley Wayne Mathis, who’s black, to play the half-pint pianist Schroeder. Mathis recently appeared on Broadway in Disney’s “The Lion King” as Bonzai the Hyena, and took rave notices Off Broadway in “St. Louis Woman.”

But insiders say that while Wong, who currently stars in the hit HBO series “Oz,” is interested in picking up the cherished blanket, he’s likely waiting to see fuller cast arrangements before making a decision.

Kristin Chenoweth has inked a deal to play the character of Patty. She’s appeared on Broadway in “Steel Pier,” and more recently Off Broadway in William Finn’s “A New Brain.”

And Ilana Levine will pull the football away from Charlie, having inked a deal to play the tough-talking, beagle-hating Lucy. Most recently on Broadway in the “Last Night of Ballyhoo.”

The tuner’s producers include Columbia Artist Management Inc., Fox Theatricals, Arthur Whitelaw and Gene Persson.

Insiders say a deal is close that would pull Rapp — who starred in the original Broadway and Off Broadway productions of “Rent” and currently is headlining its London production — away from London a week early, on Oct. 10, a scant 48 hours before rehearsals begin for “You’re a Good Man” on Oct. 12.

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