From April 14-16 and April 20-23, the Phillip Lynch Theater is showing the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Based on the beloved comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schultz, the revised play brings the Peanuts characters to life on the stage. The play is about two hours long with a 10 minute intermission.
“Basically, it was written in the 50s and originally it was sort of a concept album before it was a show,” said director and theater department chair Kevin Trudeau. “In the late 90s, they revised the play…and our plan is, it sort of takes to form almost like individual strips where you’ll see little weekday comic strips from the newspaper with one or two characters and a little longer section with a song that’s kind of like, this is the Sunday strip for Peanuts.”
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the entire Peanuts gang explore life’s great questions as they play baseball, struggle with homework, sing songs, swoon over their crushes and celebrate the joy of friendship.
“So there’s not really an overarching story,” said Trudeau. “It’s more like you’ve just kind of read through a few months of Peanuts.”
The cast is composed of the six characters from the original comic strip, but there is also an ensemble cast that supports the main actors. Charlie Brown is played by freshman theater major Mackenzie Maher. Linus Van Pelt is played by sophomore theater major Justin McCarthy.
Schroeder is played by fifth year senior theater and music industry double major Alex Schedel. Lucy Van Pelt, Linus’ sister, is played by freshman English major Molly Gustafson. Sally Brown, Charlie’s sister, is played by junior psychology major Brooke Williard. Snoopy is played by senior music major Lukas Roy.
The play had a preview night on April 13 and due to Celebration of Scholarship, tickets were available for reserved seating.
“This is the first one we’ve had where we had tickets because usually it’s for faculty and staff and the invited guests of the cast and crew because it’s a musical that’s probably going to bring more people in and we wanted to make sure we had a ticket for everybody,” said Trudeau. “Plus, this time of year is Celebration of Scholarship and they generally want to bring people from [it], so we knew there were going to be a lot more people than usual at [the] preview, [we] want to make sure we had a seat for everybody.”
The theater department decided to put on this play because they look for a musical to have a production of every school year.
“We were looking for a musical to do this year, so we’re gonna be doing a musical every year, ” said Trudeau. “This year has been a lot about rebuilding the theater program, so I didn’t really know who was going to audition or who was going to be in the show, and I wanted to make sure that we had a show that was relatively easy to sing in terms of the music and where that acting was just as important.”
Everyone is encouraged to watch this play because the character of Charlie Brown is very relatable.
“I think Charlie Brown as a character is incredibly easy for people to relate to because he, you know, he’s got a lot of anxiety issues, he has low self esteem…that’s something I’ve struggled with over the years,” said Trudeau. “And I think all of us can relate to feeling like you’re an outsider or feeling like you can’t succeed, but the great thing about Charlie Brown is that he keeps trying…he sort of gets up again and that’s when they talk about him being a good man…and I think we can all relate to that and we all need that in our lives.”
As the director of the play, Trudeau has many favorite scenes and he has fond memories of seeing a strip where Charlie Brown was celebrating hitting a game-running home run.
“I really like the last song and the first act, the book report about Peter Rabbit and it’s probably the most complex piece of music in the show,” said Trudeau. “I think it’s just the harmonies and the way that the music and the parts sort of twist and relate to each other is a lot of fun to me and I enjoy that piece a lot.”
The next production in the Phillip Lynch Theatre will be ‘An Untitled Sketch Show’ from April 27-29.
Photo Credit: Somkene Ugwu
Graphic Credits: Alexis Pragides