You’ll Be a Good Musical, Charlie Brown

The Steinbach Theater was littered with brightly colored flat scenery, child-like clothing, and several security blankets. It was ready for the cast and crew of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown to come and do their magic. Several of the more prominent members of the Phillips Academy Theater Department filed in for rehearsal, followed by crew and the directors, Lydia Wallace ’04 and Michelle Easton ’04. Among the actors was Benn Waters, ’04. An active participant in theater productions, this day student is also known on campus for his musical talents with both a guitar and his voice. He will be portraying Charlie Brown, the melancholy, mediocre main character. Waters, however, does not share Charlie’s dour outlook, saying, “I think the show is going to be great!” The show was originally adapted for the stage by Clark Gessner from the world-famous comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles Schultz. Schultz originally based the character of Charlie Brown on himself. All the characters in the play are young children, but underlying the fun and happiness of being young are Schultz’s philosophical and political views. The set of the show was comprised of four white panels set up on the stage. The panels were decorated with brightly colored flora and fauna. “The boxes are the little squares in the comic strip,” explained Wallace. “I wanted to keep the show as authentic to the original work as possible.” The simple set, however, suits the needs of the play beautifully. “The show is about children, and even though the kids in this show are complex characters with a lot of meaning behind them, they’re still young, and that attitude is reflected in the simple set,” said Wallace. Angela Tenney ’05 followed Waters into the room. It is lucky that, as a great actress and vocalist, Tenney’s passion lies in the realm of musical theater. An avid Broadway fan, she was very excited to land the role of Sally, Charlie Brown’s optimistic, though sometimes annoying, younger sister. Cathy Rampell ’03 is Snoopy for this production. She is both a talented actress and singer. Henry Watterson ’04 is back after the Broadway Revue in another leading role; this time he is Linus, Lucy’s opinionated, blankie-loving younger brother. He is a truly good match for this part. His own personality is sometimes reflected in the kind and hopeful Linus. Jenny Schnabl ’06, the sole Junior of the cast, is perfect for the part of Lucy. Schnabl, though phenomenal on stage, surprisingly embodies none of Lucy’s annoying and bossy characteristics; she is, however, very loud. Her acting style is perfect for the rambunctious role. Adam Holt ’05 is last to arrive to rehearsal. A member of Cantata Chorus and another active member of the Theater Department, Holt plays the introverted and laid-back Schroeder. His phenomenal acting skills are undoubtedly put to the test as he tries to play a very serious six-year-old with a passion for Beethoven. Tech week is always a little hectic, and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is no exception. During rehearsal, the musical side of the play, although not as audible as it could have been due to technological difficulties, ran smoothly. Easton, the musical director, is enthusiastic about the play, despite hardships. “It will all come together,” she said confidently. “It always does.” She, of course, had nothing to worry about; all the actors knew the music very well, and were in the final stages of rehearsal. Easton has also devised a way to enhance the existing music by Andrew Limbaugh. She has re-written several of the songs and has added a band to the scene, providing entirely live music for the performances. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, a mix of scenes from Schultz’s thousands of comic strips, looks to be a success. The cast is strong; everyone knows their parts well and has rehearsed a great deal. The script and music of the play are both fantastic, and the enthusiasm of the group will undoubtedly bring the plot to life. The show will run four times this weekend, once on Thursday night, once on Friday night, and two shows on Saturday night. Tickets are $5 each and are obtainable from the Theater Department’s box office in G.W.