ActUP presents 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown'
With only a few days to opening night, excitement buzzed throughout the cast and crew during rehearsals for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Though they only had four weeks of rehearsals under their belt, senior theatre major Elijah Fischer and sophomore social work major Kaylie Haas felt confident in their roles as Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt.
“With all the breaks in between, like spring break and Easter break, and limited rehearsal time in the spaces we needed, we had to do a lot of work by ourselves,” Haas said.
ActUP, the theatre club on campus, is putting on a student-run production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a comedy musical by Clark Gesner based off of Charles Schultz's “Peanuts” cartoons. The show features youthful vignettes from the classic comic strip. The play, directed by graduate student Tim Wagoner alongside assistant directors junior Emily Hogan and sophomore Bridget Donnelly, opens in the Blair Studio Theatre in the basement of Mehling Hall on Friday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
“Saturday’s performance is going to be done before Rock the Bluff opens,” Wagoner said. “It comes right up to it, so people can watch the show and then run out to door to Rock the Bluff.”
Though the musical is based on childhood fun, it also appeals to adults as it provides an element of nostalgia and humor in some of its more philosophical moments.
“For example, Sally comes out, and Charlie Brown says, ‘What’s wrong Sally?’ and she says ‘I don’t know, I was jump roping an all the sudden I realized everything is futile,’” Wagoner said. “I think that’s why it’s funny to adults — because it’s so deep, but said by children. It’s like watching a child mimic his parents.”
The upcoming performance was the brainchild of Fischer, Hogan and sophomore theatre major Sam Baldwin, who wanted to put on a musical because the UP Theatre Department was not having one this year.
“This one was the most accessible, and we just knew it would be fun, and we could pull it off,” Fischer said. “This is something that’s pretty ambitious for just a theatre club to do.”
This is the first musical that ActUP has done since it performed “Next to Normal” in 2015. It hopes that student-run musicals will become more common within the club.
“Our department puts on a musical every other year, so we’ve had people that were really vying for us to do a musical every year,” theatre major Hogan said. “We think that if we set a precedent of ActUP doing musicals, that it might pick up in the next few years.”
Fischer is hoping his peers will have positive feedback even though it’s a student-run production.
“I don’t want my peers coming out saying, ‘That was pretty good for a college student production,’” Fischer said. “Because with a mostly student-run production, I want people to think it’s very high level. We’re going to do the best we can with limited resources. We want it to be great.”
Wagoner is excited to see the youthful vision of the comic strip come to life on the stage and to bring a relaxing and fun night to the UP campus.
“I’m excited for a light-hearted musical comedy, and to see our version of Charles Shultz and all the work he’s done over the years,” Wagoner said. “We live in a changing world, but I think the message is still the same — remaining childlike in your endeavors.”
Since attendance at UP theatre events is often low, the cast and crew urge that people come and support their fellow students.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get UP students to come to things, and we have this idea that we all want to love each other and foster a supportive environment, and then no one goes to stuff,” psychology major Donnelly said. “It’s just cool to see that it’s totally done by students — it’s empowering to watch.”
Performances will be in the Blair Studio theatre in the basement of Mehling Hall from Friday, April 6 to Sunday, April 8, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. The show runs for two hours including the intermission. Tickets will be free, but it is recommended to get to the theatre early due to limited space.