Rosary High School presents pandemic-friendly 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown'
Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts comic strip comes to life in Clark Gesner's classic musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" this week at Rosary High School in Aurora.
Join the whole Peanuts gang -- Snoopy, Lucy, Schroeder, Sally, Linus, and Charlie Brown himself -- for one of six socially distanced performances, or tune in to the livestream. Performances run Thursday, May 6, through Sunday, May 9.
The production team includes Megan Drahos, producer, vocal and orchestra director; and director Laura Biancalana, both teachers at Rosary High School.
The cast, crew, and pit orchestra includes more than 40 Rosary students. Music is provided by select members of the Rosary Symphony Orchestra, the Rosary Chamber Orchestra, and some local musicians.
The Daily Herald checked in with Biancalana and Drahos to learn more about this production.
Q. Why did you choose "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" as your spring musical?
Biancalana. Choosing a musical to present during this unprecedented time proved a challenge, as we searched for options for our willing students while adhering to safety guidelines. We very quickly realized, however, that the challenges offered us an amazing opportunity. "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" tells the story of a group of young people expressing their joys, their frustrations, their triumphs and defeats, all while realizing that true friendship and love will see them through. For this group of Rosary girls, this musical encouraged them to lean in to the sisterhood and recognize that we can get through anything when surrounded by those we love.
Q. What steps have been taken to keep the performers and audience members safe?
Drahos. We have taken many steps to keep the performers and audience members safe. Laura Biancalana, my directing partner, blocked and choreographed the show so students were between 3 and 6 feet apart from each other to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Performers wore masks throughout the entire rehearsal process. For the performances, actors were provided with clear masks so that the audience will be able to witness their wonderful expressions that bring out their characters.
We have also made sure the audience feels safe. Our auditorium will be at 40% capacity, with all audience members wearing masks. There will also be multiple seats between each group, as well as a row skipped between each group. Lastly, if audience members aren't able to attend the show in-person, all six performances are being live streamed.
Q. What have been some of the challenges in putting together this production?
Drahos. One challenge has been the time frame since we had to put on this show in the spring instead of the fall due to COVID-19. We only had six weeks to put the vocals, blocking, choreography, and the set/tech elements together.
Another challenge has been working with three casts. We wanted to have fewer students on stage at a time so we could properly adhere to social distancing, so three casts gave more students the opportunity while following safety guidelines. We welcomed these challenges that helped bring out our best.
Q. What has been most rewarding or gratifying?
Drahos. The most rewarding part of the experience has been seeing the students create the story that comes to life on stage. In these uncertain pandemic times, we are all very grateful to the Rosary High School administration to be able to perform and inspire through the art of music and theater.
To see all of the work that the students have done and the way they have transformed since the beginning of the rehearsal process is such an incredible experience. It has been my great joy to see the actors grow into their characters and the pit musicians bring out the charm, wit, and heart of the score with skill and passion. It's been a privilege to work with such talented students and musicians. Finally, it's been great to see their hard work rewarded when set pieces, lights, and sound were added.
Q. What criteria did you use for casting the lead roles? Was this a difficult or easy show to cast?
Drahos. This show was challenging to cast. All of the roles are leads and require great vocal ability as well as acting. We had a large amount of talent. The character development was another large part of the selection process. Throughout the process, the performers displayed substantial talent and spirit.
Q. What do you think audiences will like best about this show?
Drahos. The songs are memorable, the characters lovable, and the lessons poignant and funny. In this revue of songs and vignettes, based on the beloved Charles Schulz comic strip, Charlie Brown and his friends explore life's great questions as they play baseball, struggle with homework, sing songs, and celebrate the joy of friendship.
Q. Anything else you'd like readers to know?
Drahos. We have some special events happening during the show weekend. On Friday and Saturday, May 7-8, the adults can enjoy beer, wine, or a specialty cocktail at The Peanut Gallery.
Also, we welcome everyone to join us for a family picnic with the Peanuts Gang at noon Saturday, May 8. Cost is $10 or $5 for children ages 10 or younger. Email Vicki Danklefsen (email@example.com) if you'd like to attend the picnic.
Don't forget that you can also enjoy this wonderful show from the comfort of your own home. Livestream tickets are available for all six performances. You can find the link to purchase tickets at www.rosaryhs.com/musical.
If you goWhat: Rosary High School's production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 6; 7 p.m. Friday, May 7; 10:30 a.m., 2:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 9.
Where: Rosary High School, 901 Edgelawn Drive, Aurora
Tickets: $12; $10 for students, seniors, and children; or $15 for a family livestream. Tickets available online at www.rosaryhs.com/musical or at the school office. For details, call the school at (630) 896-0831.