Good grief! Go see 'Charlie Brown'
CHAMPAIGN — Good news for fans of "Peanuts": The musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" opens tonight at the Parkland Theatre for a four-performance run.
Stefanie Senior, who is directing for the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company, said the two-act musical brings to life the famed comic strip by Charles Schulz.
"It's an all-ages show for anybody who loves 'Peanuts,' " said Senior, an Illinois State University junior majoring in theater management.
Though some productions of the popular musical feature children in the roles, CUTC's has six adult players, headed by the appropriately named Charlie Newman as Charlie Brown.
Newman and Senior attended Urbana University High School together; both graduated in 2011.
The other cast members are Jessica Miller as Sally; Andrew Lee, Linus; Jenny Gleason, Lucy; Ray Essick, Schroeder; and Meaguell Gaines, Snoopy.
"I hope we do justice to these really iconic characters," Senior said. "That's sort of been my biggest anxiety with the show. A lot of people will come to the show who really know the characters."
The musical, she added, is not linear and doesn't have a standard plot, though it does feature traditional musical-theater songs.
Although there is some dance, the musical is not heavily choreographed, said Senior, who has not modified the book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner.
Billed as revised, the musical features additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.
"It's just a fun show that everyone can enjoy," Senior said. "I think our sort of motto, the thing I say a lot in rehearsal is, 'it will be silly but in a good way and everyone will have fun.'"
A five-piece ensemble led by Tim Renner at the keyboard will provide the music. Renner is a doctoral of musical arts degree candidate in voice at the University of Illinois, and is active in the School of Music opera program.
He also is choir director and a worship leader at his home church, First Baptist of Danville.
"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," premiered off-Broadway in 1967 and opened on Broadway in 1971, following a U.S. tour in 1970. It returned to Broadway in 1999 and has become a favorite production of community theaters nationwide.
Senior, who lives in Champaign, has directed two other shows before; this is her first big one, she said. One was a piece she wrote and presented at Uni High when she was a student there. The other was a play at Parkland Theatre, where she was an acting major before she transferred to ISU.
More recently, Senior appeared as Cheryl in "Good Boys and True" at the Station Theatre.
If you go
What: Champaign Urbana Theatre Company presents "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" (Revised), with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Directed by Stefanie Senior, with music direction by Tim Renner
When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Parkland Theatre, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C.
Tickets: $16 for adults; $12, senior citizens and students; $8, children.
Information: cutc.org/charliebrown/ or 344-3884.