Musical will bring ‘Peanuts’ comic strip to life

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Max Koeller will take on the role of Charlie Brown and Riley Whitney will play Lucy in MFL MarMac’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Nov. 9 and 10. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

The musical will bring Charles M. Schulz’s iconic “Peanuts” comic strip to life. All the well-known characters, including Snoopy (Sydney Moser), Sally (Rose Grau) and Woodstock (Jonah Wille), will be featured.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Good grief! Don’t miss the opportunity to see Charles M. Schulz’s iconic “Peanuts” comic strip come to life this weekend during the MFL MarMac musical, which offers a fresh take on the 1967 classic “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

The cast will present three performances in the high school auditorium, in Monona—at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, then again at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10. There is no Friday night show this year, so as not to conflict with the MFL MarMac football playoff game.

Over 20 students are involved in the musical this year, not only acting and singing, but also helping with lights, sound and set design. Performances will be split into small vignettes, like the comic strip, explained director Diane Fisk.

“Everyone’s a ‘Peanuts’ character,” she said, “and it basically shows a day in the life of Charlie Brown.”

The characters do everything from playing baseball and sharing book reports to celebrating Beethoven’s birthday.

“The humor will be the best part. There are a lot of little jokes,” said junior Riley Whitney, who plays the role of Lucy. “But some scenes are only two or three lines long, so if you don’t listen, you’ll miss them.”

“There’s a part where the blankets come to life, then Charlie Brown tries to fly a kite but can’t,” Fisk added. “The glee club directed by Schroeder is just a stitch.”

Whitney and Max Koeller, who has the lead role of Charlie Brown, said they and the other cast members are fairly familiar with the “Peanuts” characters and story lines. Whitney grew up watching the TV specials with her family, and her mom is a big “Peanuts” fan. During a recent visit to her grandparents’ home, she said they brought out a book featuring some of the different comic strips.

“It was cool to see some of the scenes we’re doing,” she shared.

Koeller said he’d even heard some of the featured songs before. 

“The songs from the show are perfect for speech events,” an activity he’s also active in, Koeller stated.

Fisk admitted “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a bit more scaled back than some of the school’s recent musicals, which included “Cinderella” and “Annie.” The characters wear just one costume throughout most of the show, only changing into pajamas at the end of the day.

“This will be the first musical where I won’t have any dry cleaning,” she joked.

Since the characters are all little kids, the audience will be asked to use its imagination more, especially when it comes to the set. Some of the most prominent pieces include over a dozen large, colorful blocks.

“The blocks are used as benches and a couch, and one turns into a TV,” Fisk said. While arranging the blocks, which have letters on each side, she hopes to have the cast spell out short words.

Portraying a kid isn’t necessarily easier than playing an adult, though.

“It’s difficult,” said Whitney, particularly for students who’ve grown up learning to sing a certain way. “We’re taught all these rules. You’re not supposed to sing like little kids.”

“You have to be spontaneous, and sing like a seven or eight year old would sing and act. There are a lot of lines that repeat,” noted Koeller. “It’s very different, but exciting.”

Tickets for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” are available online now at showtix4u.com. Search for “MFL MarMac,” then select the show time and seats you would like. Tickets will also be available at the door the days of the performances.

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