January 2015

You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

Author: Andrea Gannon | Photographer: 33 Park

The cast, from left to right (BACKGROUND) : WHITAKER GANNON, Shannon Hagarty, Allie Santorum, John Horner, Jack Dextraze, Zach June and Alyssa Calamari
In the foreground: Ava Nixon and Kate Herman

With the effervescent You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Hilton Head Prep takes a fresh approach to the beloved all-time 1967 classic production based on the Comic Strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz. The gang’s all here: Charlie Brown (John Horner, Jack Dextraze), his sister Sally (Allie Santorum, Shannon Hegarty), Linus (Shannon Hegarty, Zach June), Lucy (Alyssa Calamari, Allie Santorum), Schroeder (Zach June, Whitaker Gannon) and Snoopy (Ava Nixon, Kate Herman), with a few added friends to the Peanuts posse. In fact, there’s a fine-feathered addition to the cast: Playing Woodstock (the little yellow bird and Snoopy’s constant companion) is Waddy Brooks, flying onstage for his theatrical debut.

The show represents a day in the life of Charlie Brown. And it’s just that: an amalgam of a day made up of moments from all the days of Charlie Brown, from Valentine’s Day to the baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair, all mixed in with the lives of his friends (both human and non-human) and strung together on the string of a single day, from one bright uncertain morning, concluding with a hopeful starlit evening.

Explaining the universal appeal of Charlie Brown, performing arts director Peggy Trecker White said, “I believe we all have a soft spot for Charlie Brown. He strives to be good, to do the right thing; he pushes himself to take risks and continuously goes out on a limb, thinking that maybe just this time, things will work out in his favor. And in the end, they do. Charlie Brown embodies so many of our own fears, strengths and weaknesses. We feel for him as he moves through anxiety and hope. We know that we too worry about the same seemingly small things. We all stress about something, and we all desire love. The appeal of Charlie Brown and his friends is that they mirror our own complicated human foibles and successes but in such a lovely, comical way. They make us smile with our hearts in the ways that only children can.”

Another deciding factor in choosing this show is that it fit the strengths of her students, White said. “The whole cast is doing a fabulous job! I decided what was best was to double cast the six main roles. Each student has something special to offer, and I did not want to limit their experience. It really is worth everyone’s while to attend more than one performance in order to witness the versatility of our actors.” The cast includes 19 Hilton Head Prep students.

“One student who really deserves her time in the sun is Allie Santorum. I originally thought she would be great for the role of Sally, and she is; but as it turned out, she was also a perfect match for Lucy, and so she is playing both roles in alternate performances,” White explained. Santorum is a senior and Prep lifer who is especially proud to be part of the very first class involved in the Performing Arts Program at Prep. She started dancing at the Hilton Head Dance School at age three. Since then, she has gone on to dance in many productions of the Nutcracker and has taken part in productions at Main Street Youth Theatre and Savannah’s Summer Theatre Institute as well as productions all through middle school and upper school at Prep.

When asked what drew her to theatre, Santorum said, “It was partly the opportunity I found to express myself both comically and seriously. But even more so, it was the experience of meeting so many wonderful people from all over the community and making new friends.”
Two equally talented seniors, Alyssa Calamari and Whitaker Gannon are also highlighted.

“We are so thrilled to have these fine young ladies in our production,” White said. “Alyssa is playing Lucy, and I could not be more proud. She has grown so much as an actor and singer in just the past year. It’s really exciting to watch! Whitaker is performing the role of Schroeder and taking on some serious vocal acrobatics. She is a strong leader and continues to grow in her abilities, displaying a professionalism and maturity beyond her years.

“Of course, there are many more fantastic performances, and I wish I could gush about them all. We are lucky crew. We love what we do and love each other. And that is happiness!” 

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown is on stage February 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. and February 22 at 2 p.m. at the Hilton Head High School Seahawk Cultural Center. Tickets can be purchased online at hhprep.org and will also be available at the door—cash or check only. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for seniors (60 and older); and $10 for students. For additional information and group rates (15 or more people), call (843) 715-8510.

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