by Bobby Goudie.
The Hills Musical Company is known for producing excellent amateur musical theatre, which is well worth the trip to the beautiful old Stirling Community Theatre. For their next production the theatre group are bringing the world’s favourite Peanuts comic strip to the stage in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip ran continuously from 1950 until 2000 and is considered to be one of the most influential and beloved comic strips of all time. With original book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown was first performed on Broadway in 1967 and ran for almost 1600 performances. The show was given a major Broadway revival in 1998 by the authors and producers of the original production together with additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The revival won two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards.
The Hills Musical Company presentation of ‘Charlie Brown’ will run for nine performances only, with a capable production team that include award-winning Director Hayley Horton, Musical Director Peter Johns, Choreographer Vanessa Redmond and Assistant Director Ellis Dolan.
The Clothesline speaks with Hayley Horton via email.
“The show is about a day in the life of Charlie Brown and friends, based on the popular comic strips and cartoons of Peanuts by Charles M Schultz,” Horton begins. “Although he has many things to do, including feeding a dog and writing a book report on Peter Rabbit, Charlie manages to discover what it means to be a good man with the help of his friends Linus, Schroeder, Lucy, Sally Brown and Snoopy.”
With a cast that includes Gareth Wilkes (Charlie Brown), Mim Sarre (Sally Brown), Fahad Farooque (Snoopy), Buddy Dawson (Linus), Amy Nagesh (Lucy) and Omkar Nagesh (Schroeder), we ask Horton about the cast, the auditioning process and how the performers are enjoying bringing out the playful side of their characters?
“The cast are a collection of some of Adelaide’s best amateur theatre performers,” she explains. “We are thrilled with their skills and experience, and each of them is so well suited to their roles. Plus they’re lovely people and a joy to work with.
“There was a very high standard of auditionees for these roles, which was demonstrated by the number of people called back for the roles; 12 people in all to fill only six roles. It also meant that we had the luxury of choosing a great ensemble that are not only great performers in their own right, but also blend and work well together.
“It is so much fun rehearsing these characters,” Horton continues. “We’ve had lots of moments of identifying with certain traits and observations of children and the ways in which they act, with an added layer of adult understanding and observations. Plus they get to have a boogie, throw tantrums and generally be self-indulgent in the most enjoyable way!”
Apart from The Hills Musical Company’s great reputation for quality community theatre, why should city dwellers make the trip to the hills for this production?
“It’s a great cast with fun, up-beat, toe-tapping music which is definitely ‘hummable’ and keeps the pace moving. It’s a great show for everyone from kids to adults. The kids will love the colour and fun and the adults will enjoy the dry observational humour. It’s a fun, bright couple of hours at the theatre that will ensure you leave with a big smile on your face!”
Which parts of the show you are excited about watching every night?
“I love the Act I, she replies. “It’s the number Book Report, which shows the various characters writing a book report about Peter Rabbit; it’s such a cute number and a beautiful moment capturing each of the differences between the characters… plus it’s really funny!”
How is the revival different from the 1967 original musical?
“Some of the characters are different. For example, Peppermint Patty was replaced by Sally Brown, and there are some different musical numbers,” Horton explains. “It’s quite a different show. I think the revival is more acceptable to modern audiences and a tighter script.”
Has the show had successful runs interstate?
“It’s performed regularly,” Horton says. “There seems to be a production happening somewhere all the time. Charlie Brown is so accessible and a joyful night at the theatre. While I’m a huge fan of the dramatic shows like Les Misérables and Sweeney Todd, this is comedy at its best and fun for everyone! You don’t need to be a theatre expert to enjoy this show.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“If anyone loves the cartoons, loves dry observational humour and toe-tapping tunes, then they are going to love Charlie Brown. Bring the whole family, from the grandkids to the grandparents!”
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown performs at Stirling Community Theatre from Fri Apr 24 until Sat May 9.
Bookings at www.hillsmusical.org.au or 0466 118 153.