Actors face many challenges from learning their lines, to mastering stage directions, but the cast of the upcoming Mount Royal production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, has a different kind of obstacle.
According to cast members, the biggest hurdle to overcome has been bringing the iconic two-dimensional characters to the stage.
“My biggest thing is how do you play the emotions that are drawn?” said 18-year-old Joshua Murdoch, about his role as Schroeder.
“It’s kind of taking simple ideas and just the images printed on the page or the dialogue printed on the page and thinking about how to make it real,” added Ryan Irving, 18, who has taken on the part of Linus.
While the roles may be difficult, the fun and excitement far outweighs the struggles for the students, according to Irving.
Not only is the play unique in that it’s an adaption of cartoon, but it’s rare that Mount Royal puts on a musical.
“I never imagined being in a musical ever, because I’ve never thought about singing … it’s just been such a fun time,” he said.
Upon walking into the room where the cast has been rehearsing for the past three weeks, the wall is covered nearly from floor to ceiling in comic strips to help inspire the young actors.
To gain even greater understand of their characters, Beth McIntyre said she and cast-mate Kristin Swiries watched almost every Charlie Brown movie the day they found out they had been cast.
“You have to find the human being that is Lucy Van Pelt,” explained McIntyre about her role.
“It’s nothing like we’ve done in class,” added Swiries when it comes to playing Charlie Brown’s younger sister Sally.
The musical is based on a comic strip by the late Charles Schultz, who began drawing the now infamous Peanuts cartoon more than 50 years ago.
The main character of the comic, Charlie Brown, is forever cursed and has an abundance of issues despite only being a young kid, which is something we can all relate to according to the actor playing him.
“I think everyone who has watched it or read it can relate to (Charlie Brown) in some way, shape or form,” said Evan Medd, 18.
One struggle that the majority of the cast faced was getting roles in the show despite being in only their first year of the two-year theatre arts diploma program.
All of the male cast members; Murdoch, Irving, Medd and Joe Fowler, who plays Snoopy, are in their first year at Mount Royal so getting cast in a main-stage production was a huge accomplishment.
“They really didn’t think first-years were going to be in the show and then we just killed our auditions,” Murdoch said with a laugh.
“This is the first (main-stage) show I’ve been in and that’s why its kind of, not a shock for me, but I’m pretty lucky,” said Medd. “There isn’t really a bigger role to get.”
After rehearsing since the beginning of the semester, the production is nearly set for opening night on Feb. 5.
With a more modern set design and updated costumes, the cast believes the show will be one that everyone can enjoy.
“People can bring their five-year-old kid, but then they can also bring their 90-year-old grandma … I think everyone will enjoy it because it’s something that relates to everyone and it’s a fun entertaining show,” said McIntyre.
“My favourite thing about it, that I think anyone can gain from it is the fact that the message it tries to convey … is a very important message. And since the shows so simple, it’s really easy to get that message,” Medd explained.
While the musical will appeal to a wide audience, the cast is really hoping to see support from their fellow students.
“I think that it’s a good show for the college to do because it’s something that can be popular and something that students can get a little more buzzed about,” said Swiries.
The musical runs until Feb. 13, with tickets priced at $20 for adults and $15 for students, seniors and Mount Royal alumni.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, excluding the opening performance, two tickets can be purchased for the price of one.