High school musical scores a hit
On Valentine's Day, the smiles and laughter began at the Performing Arts Center almost as soon as the curtain went up on the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" and continued throughout the show. The award-winning musical by Clark Gesner, based on Charles M. Shultz's "Peanuts" comic strip, opened this past Thursday, and continued through Saturday night. It was clearly a hit with the audience of more than 300 who arrived for the matinee performance on Saturday, Feb. 14.
Photos by M.C. Wallo
The audience was a mix of young and old, with the families of the more than 30 members of the regional high cast clearly an enthusiastic attendance. Every so often, whispers from the many youngsters in the audience could be heard exclaiming about which cartoon characters were their favorites - a difficult choice because the entire cast brought their characters to life with practiced exuberance.
It was an ambitious undertaking. The high school's drama teacher and show's director, Kate Murray, along with choreographer Lianna Loughman, did an impressive job directing with the duplicate casts who preformed in alternating shows: Charlie Brown was played by Austin Gampfer and Jerome Pikor; the outspoken Lucy was played by Emily Mercier and Hannah Marlin; Lucy's little brother Linus, the recurrent thumb sucker clutching a baby blanket, was played in turn by Amailie Tinus and Alex Roan.
When not starring in their shows, the actors became part of the chorus, talented and energetic groups, constantly in motion, who kept the show's momentum in high gear.
The orchestra, under the direction of Michael Tinus and the show's conductor and vocal director, Jan Wightman, did a splendid job with the musical numbers that included: "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," "Beethoven," "The Kite," "The Baseball Game," "Little Known Facts," and "Happiness."
Charlie Brown's insecurities about himself are the central theme of the production. Charlie is down and out about being a failure when it comes to playing baseball, flying a kite, or trying to impress the little red-headed girl (Emma HallBilsback). It turns out that even Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy (Taylor Stone) have doubts about themselves, and begin to dream of what they could be. Charlie wants to be a super athlete named Flash, Lucy imagines herself a queen, while Snoopy wants to be a fierce animal in the jungle. By the end of the production, Charlie and his pals come to terms with who they are, and find some satisfaction in the strengths pointed out by their friends.
The musical show's ending could not have been more perfect for Valentine's Day: The little red-headed girl surprises Charlie Brown with a kiss and, at last, a Valentine.
Caroline Beetz Fenske writes the Edgartown town column for The Martha's Vineyard Times.