MU musical brings the Peanuts gang to life

“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” is based off of Charles M. Schulz’s comics.

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Based on Charles M. Schulz’s comics about a boy and his dog, the musical “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” guarantees laughs as it incorporates elements of comedy and choreography. The musical, which opened Wednesday, is directed by MU professor Dr. Cat Gleason and is intended to appeal to all audiences.

“If you think about how comic strips work, it’s really just moments upon moments, and that is how our musical is built,” Gleason said. “It works a lot better as a series of moments than a continual working through an entire day type of deal.”

Some of these highlighted moments include “Lucy’s five-cent psychiatry, Snoopy’s flights of fancy, the kite-eating tree and much more.” The stories and characters of Schulz's comics, including the well-known holiday specials, bring a sense of familiarity. Since the comic’s debut in 1950, the Peanuts gang has been popular among households for decades.

“One of the things that I love that we did with this musical is that we put in those influences of those holiday specials,” Gleason said. “You have Charlie Brown Christmas and all of those things, and so for our production, those are the things I was really trying to highlight and bring in.”

Gleason said these jokes and plot elements were added so that the musical feels familiar to the college and local community audience. While presenting a variety of shows throughout the season, including “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” the audience is always in consideration.

In her seventh year at MU, this is Gleason’s first time directing a musical. From comedic elements to choreography, Gleason uses her past experience as a performer to influence her directing style.

“I love musicals. I love going to musicals. I love everything that goes into musicals,” said Gleason. “I have done several of the elements that go into musicals; I was a trained dancer and a vocalist, but I’m not the person who has done musicals all my life. I have an outsider’s view, which is good in some ways.”

In the rehearsals leading up to the show, Gleason said the cast was working really hard and really fast. According to MU junior Leah Huskey, who plays Lucy, rehearsals were fun but involved overcoming challenges as well.

“My favorite part of the production has been working with some of my very best friends and getting to hang out with them on stage and off,” Huskey said. “My character is super fun to play because she is loud, bossy, funny and knows what she wants. I see a lot of my younger self in Lucy, so it's kind of like reliving my childhood.”

From locating missing props to setting up the stage, MU senior and co-stage manager Rachel Johnson is responsible for the ins and outs of the production. Johnson is eager to see the show come to life.

“The actors have been very patient and cooperative throughout the process,” Johnson said in an email. “I think we've got some really great things happening.”

“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” is being performed at the Rhynsburger Theatre. The show will close with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1.

Edited by Brooke Collier | bcollier@themaneater.com

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