Spring musical, 'Charlie Brown,' runs April 6-7
Posted on: Mar 29, 2018
A familiar cast of characters will take the stage at Delano High School next weekend for the spring musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Show times for the production, based on the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles Schulz, include a 7 p.m. performance on Friday, April 6, and a 1 p.m. show on Saturday, April 7.
The cast is led by Gabe Otto in the title role, and actors have enjoyed the prep work that has gone into the performance.
“I’m sure for Charlie Brown it’s hard to act depressed all the time when you’re having so much fun,” said freshman Hunter Elwood, who appears on stage as the piano-playing Schroeder.
The main character’s nemesis, Lucy, is played by sophomore Grace Schaust. Portraying such universally known characters can be a challenge, but it is one that Schaust has embraced.
“I think it’s super fun,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m true to the character, but at the same time I feel like there are parts of Lucy in me, the sassy of aspect of her, so I can kind of just let loose and have fun.”
The production includes a somewhat smaller cast than usual and a simple set, which several of the actors have appreciated.
“Sometimes I kind of prefer smaller groups because there is more bonding,” said Schaust, adding that the chance to portray the relatively simple life of children has been her favorite part of this particular show. “We get to be little kids, and it’s not very often we get to do that, especially now in high school when we have so much going on,” she said.
Senior Jackson Groskreutz is a six-year crew veteran who has been involved in nearly 30 productions. He is managing the sound this spring.
“I love the music. I think it’s funny, and I love Snoopy’s parts. He’s got a couple of good songs that make me laugh every time I hear them,” Groskreutz said. “We never know what he’s going to do.”
Snoopy is played by Owen Dailey. Other characters include Linus (Blake Koehler), Sally (Jenna Kantrovich), Woodstock (Justin May), Peppermint Patty (Kelli Carroll), Marcie (Mary Ludwig), Violet (Claire Bruhn), Frieda (Juney Anderson), Eudora (Isabelle Hokanson), Pigpen (Sydney Sinnott) and Thibault (Autumn Trujillo). Additional ensemble members round out the cast, and middle school/high school vocal director Sandy Meyerson is managing the music.
Though not on stage himself, Groskreutz said he has enjoyed watching the actors grow into their roles.
“It’s fun to watch the people develop their characters,” he said. “It goes from where everyone is kind of unsure of what they’re reading on the script to where they’ve really got their character down. It’s just cool to see the progression.”
Elwood and Schaust said the transformation involves both fitting into a character and injecting some of their own personality.
“You get your lines and your choreography, and then you can kind of make it your own,” said Schaust. “You add your own touch to it.”
Elwood said the opposite is also true.
“Acting is taking yourself and turning yourself into something different,” he said.
While the thrill of the performance will come with the weekend shows, actors said their favorite part of the experience overall is the companionship found in working toward a common goal.
“Theater is one of those things where it’s not like some people sit on the bench while the rest play, but everyone is in the game together,” Schaust said. “Every part matters.”
In 1986 Barb Roy directed her first play, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” at Delano High School.
Next week she will conduct her last musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” after 33 years in the director’s seat.
Roy preferred to keep a low profile in terms of her retirement, something that didn’t surprise Groskreutz.
“For Mrs. Roy, it’s always been about the kids,” Groskreutz said. “I’ve been doing this for six years now, year-round with her, and I don’t regret a thing. Part of the reason I keep coming back is Mrs. Roy, because she’s so much fun to work with.”
Schaust, who plays Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” said Roy has had high expectations for her students, but has tempered those expectations with genuine compassion.
“We’re going to miss her,” Schaust said. “She’s an amazing director and she puts so much work into everything she does. She’s taught us a lot about life in general.”
Former DHS Principal Ted May hired Roy in 1985 and said she was “first and foremost an excellent classroom teacher” who combined a thorough knowledge of literature and writing with a knack for engaging young people both in the classroom and on the stage.
“Barb knows the theater as a craft and an art,” May said, adding that Roy’s regular trips to Broadway kept her knowledge of dramatic storytelling and the mechanics of stagecraft well honed.
“She had a sense of the theater -- its human appeal, its emotions, its insights, its imagery. She selected scripts with a wide range of dramatic appeal -- from serious drama such as ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ to ‘The Miracle Worker,’ comedies from ‘Harvey’ to ‘Why Do We Laugh,’ and popular musicals, from ‘The Sound of Music’ to ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’
“Barb knew how to motivate student actors to create characters that gave the audience a vivid sense of the whimsical and the realistic, life’s ups and downs, and its victories and defeats. She selected plays that could entertain, educate and enlighten.”
“She added a touch of magic to each show,” he said.
Roy’s directorial efforts extended well beyond the high school age range. She established relationships with young actors at the elementary school level, and continued to direct them through middle school, high school and beyond.
“For these young people to experience the relationships of characters, to interpret the playwright’s meaning, and to learn the art of public speaking -- these are skills that will last them a lifetime,” said May.
Roy also directed a summer community theater for a time in the 1980s, giving an outlet for acting enthusiasts to pursue performance opportunities beyond high school.
To her qualities of passion, knowledge and motivation, May said that Roy also exemplified perseverance.
“Barb Roy lived the show biz motto, ‘the show must go on,’” he said. “Through changing trends and priorities in theater and education, through budget cuts and competitive pressures, Barb believed that the theater could make a better world for her students and her school. For these contributions, Delano High School and the community of Delano give Barb Roy a thunderous standing ovation.”