An Oberlin Musical Theater Association production of the musical comedy You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, inspired by Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic serial and written by Clark Gesner, goes up Thursday, Nov. 15 through Saturday, Nov. 17 in Wilder Main.
The musical brings the funny and existential comics about childhood to the stage with rousing musical numbers and snapshots of the zany, melancholic, and touching moments between characters that endeared Schulz’s work to many.
“It’s about these cartoon characters, these kids who have grown-up emotions, dealing with problems both fantastic and actually accessible for people our age,” the show’s director, College senior Keifer Ludwig, said. “It’s all sorts of things, as any musical is. It’s about reconciling your place in the world and feeling like at the end of the day you can’t really understand what people think of you, but that everyone sort of has it that way. And then through that, there’s a lot of fun dance numbers — it’s not all serious stuff, there are some shenanigans in there.”
Many members of the cast and crew are longtime fans of the Peanuts comics.
“Growing up, I loved Snoopy and all the characters,” College first-year Peter Stern, who plays Linus van Pelt, said. “It’s so thrilling to be able to embody these characters and live in their world for some time.”
The actors were thoughtful in their portrayal of these widely beloved characters. In preparation for their roles, the cast did extensive research on the source material.
“I read some of [the comics] and as a cast we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was helpful,” said College first-year Clara Zucker, who plays Sally Brown. “Sally really changes throughout the comics, all the characters do, so I kind of had to decide which Sally I wanted to be.”
The cast also spent time considering what made the original stories so successful.
“There are some really adult themes encapsulated in a child’s mind,” said first-year Cyrus Thelin, who plays Snoopy. It is this quality which makes the comics — and this show — accessible for people of all ages.
OMTA’s production gives first-years the opportunity to partake in a musical theater production, since the Oberlin Theater Department held its primary auditions for their musical last spring, making it only available to upperclassmen. OMTA and its counterpart, Oberlin Student Theater Association, have also been great spaces for people who are new to theater.
“I haven’t done musical theater or any theater before I came to college,” said College sophomore Gina Fontanesi, who plays Lucy van Pelt. “This is my second real production, and this is my first time having lines and a solo. This is all super new. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Ludwig explained his personal philosophy on directing.
“A lot of it ties to comfort; getting people in a place where they feel like they can do something that isn’t themselves,” he said.
Ludwig expressed his passion for this project and all the people involved.
“It’s a really fun musical,” he said. “The actors are so talented, we lucked out. They approach the show in such a delightful and hilarious way. Even though I’ve seen it 80 times over I still laugh at all their jokes. It’s a wonderful spectacle. It’s just fun to witness.”
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs from Nov. 5–17 at 8 p.m. in Wilder Main. Tickets are available through OMTA and at the door for $5.