by Benjamin Konuch, Student Public Relations Writer
This October 5, Cedarville University will open its 2023-2024 theatre season with a mainstage production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” by Clark Gesner based off Charles Schultz’s beloved comic strip “Peanuts.” Tickets are available for purchase online.
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” centers around the children of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip and highlights the wild imaginations, friendships, acceptance and childhood hopefulness of these iconic characters. This theatrical performance is directed by Stacey Stratton, assistant professor of theatre, who brought “The Giver” and “Much Ado about Nothing” to the Cedarville stage last year.
“The goal of this show is to present all the iconic elements of the “Peanuts” characters that audiences love and expect, but through a unique staging so those who have seen this play before would still have a new and exciting experience,” said Stratton.
One of the ways Cedarville’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is unique is that they have the freedom to turn their ensemble cast of background characters into named and identifiable figures from Schultz’s comics. In this way, the production brings a fresh spin on an iconic play through subtle context changes that shine a greater light on the interactions and relationships between the “Peanuts” characters.
“As we were allowed to define who the ensemble characters would be, it was important to me to add the character of The Little Redhead Girl,” Stratton explained. “It’s not primarily to represent Charlie Brown’s crush, but rather the kindness she displays and the impact it has on him. There’s a peacefulness and gentle spirit about her that brings a new angle into this show.”
Sam Claude, a senior theatre major, plays the role of Charlie Brown in this production. Claude’s previous roles for Cedarville’s theatre include Warren Sheffield in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” Doc Gibbs in “Our Town,” Friar Francis in “Much Ado about Nothing” and many more. Charlie Brown has quickly become his favorite role, and he hopes younger audiences find the fun in the show while older audiences find depth that they might not expect from “Peanuts.”
“What makes Charlie Brown so different and what makes him resonate with so many people is that he never gives up,” said Claude. “When Lucy pulls away his football before he kicks it, for example, he keeps falling for it every time, but every time he does it’s because of his optimism and belief that this time he’ll succeed.”
Stratton hopes audiences will come to “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” for a fun time but leave with something worthwhile too.
“The story of “Peanuts” demonstrates again and again how these characters can live in their community full of disagreements and differences and yet work through them to keep the main thing the main thing – which in their case is their friendship,” Stratton said. “I believe this play demonstrates an example for how we can live our lives that way too, and that if we were a little bit harder to offend, we might be able to live with that peacefulness that Charlie Brown is able to attain.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,456 undergraduate, graduate, and dual enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, such as the bachelor of arts in theatre, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the #4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.