Play, a classic, features state-of-the-art instruments
It’s a typical day in Charles Schultz’s world of "Peanuts," except for the gang’s propensity for bursting into song. Musical notes have replaced cartoon bubbles in Park City High School’s production of "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Snoopy and Schroeder are tenors, Lucy and Sally are sopranos and Charlie Brown is a baritone.
A lot has changed since "Peanuts" first appeared in newspapers in 1950. Today’s teenagers are more likely to be versed in "Family Guy" and "South Park" than sweet, even melancholic, comic strips, but there’s something timeless about Charlie Brown.
The show generated so much interest that drama teacher Nicole Miller had enough students for two casts.
"It’s nostalgia," said Rebecca Sands, a senior who plays Snoopy. "We read Charlie Brown as kids."
Allie Marsh, who plays the title character, found human dimensions in her character’s whimsical attitude. "Going through the show I’ve found more inspiration because his life is so depressing," she explained, smiling. "I really am like Charlie Brown."
Others found quirks in their character to bring to life. Sands said she sees a lot of herself in Snoopy. Lucy, on the other hand, takes pleasure in putting other people down. "She literally wants to be queen of the world," senior Courtney Bell said. "She’s smug and smiling, in love with Schroeder."
Bell exchanges a glance with John Dwyer, a junior who is taking on the role of the wannabe piano virtuoso. "It’s like when a kid finds out something is really great," Dwyer said of Schroeder’s obsession with the piano. "His life revolves around music."
Schroeder isn’t the only music-lover in the cast. Beneath the Eccles Center stage, the five-person orchestra uses state-of-the-art wind instruments, percussion, bass, guitar and keyboard to jibe digital music with action onstage, according to the district’s production manager David Hellock.
"Charlie Brown" is the first student production at the Eccles to use all-digital equipment. An electronic drum kit, a sample pad, a violin that doubles as a viola and a woodwind called an Electronic Wind Instrument that sounds like a flute, a soprano saxophone, a clarinet and a recorder feed into synthesizers.
"Nothing plays into the air," Hellock said.
The equipment gives students a chance to hone their skills on instruments that are fast becoming the industry standards. "We’re trying to mimic what’s being used in the industry so that those who want to pursue a career in music are as on the ball as possible," Hellock said.
Ben Corrigan plays percussion and runs more than 100 sound effects for the show. With the tap of his drum stick, Corrigan makes glass shatter, bells toll and teachers drone on in the sound familiar to Charlie Brown audiences: wha-wha-wha. "Charlie Brown" is Corrigan’s third musical, and his first without an acoustic drum set. "It was a big step," he said. "I’m doing three people’s jobs from one chair." He added, "It definitely goes against the stereotype of the lazy drummer."
The stakes are higher for all the musicians, said keyboard player Clay Carazo, a senior. "It’s different playing with just five people because every part is a solo," he said.
Sophie Hunter-Silverstone, who plays a five-string instrument shaped like a musical note, said playing alone require precession. "When you’re in a [full] orchestra, you don’t have to be quite as perfect," she said. "When you’re solo, if you’re not perfect, everybody knows."
Chris Croce straps an electric guitar to his back and thumbs the upright bass, switching back and forth between instruments. The "M" in his musical repertoire stands for multitasking. He plays upright bass an regular bass in jazz band, but said he likes the urgency of performing before a live audience. "It’s just a really good environment," he said.
Park City High School Presents, "You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown," Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults. The Saturday matinee will offer a special $3 tickets for children ages 12 and under. The event is Thursday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
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