The kids from Charles Schultz's famous Peanuts comic strip will come alive this weekend when the Hoboken Public School District stages the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The production will have three shows, including one each at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. The shows are at the Hoboken High School auditorium.
Danielle Miller, the district's theater teacher and director of the production, said she has been a longtime fan of the Peanuts characters and has staged the musical at other schools where she has previously taught.
“I thought this was something the kids could have fun with,” Miller said. Miller said the production, the last of the school year, took only five weeks to put together.
The musical compiles several vignettes featuring all the famous Peanuts plot lines, including Lucy's crabbiness, Linus's blue blanket, Charlie Brown's baseball futility and Snoopy's dogfight with the Red Baron.
Miller said the overall theme linking the scenes involves the experience of childhood. “It's about not getting any valentines, or being ignored by the little red-haired girl, or Snoopy not getting fed,” Miller said. “To kids these things are such a big deal.”
The cast includes six leads, including Hoboken High eight-graders Jarod Bracero and Tessa Addeo as Charlie Brown and Sally, Wallace sixth-grader David Rivera as Linus, Wallace fourth-grader Zoe Mattessich as Lucy, Connors fifth grader Donald Hill as Schroeder, and Hoboken High tenth-grader as Snoopy. There are also over 40 students who comprise a backing ensemble, and another ten who work backstage.
The leads won their roles after open auditions. Miller said she was looking to cast actors with especially vibrant personalities.
Bracero said he saw he got the role of Charlie Brown when the cast list was posted online at midnight. “I woke up my parents screaming,” he said.
Hill said he felt the same level of excitement. “I was so excited I was jumping up and down,” he said.
The actors sing along to live music, including a five-piece band led by the show's musical director Kristen Dziuba. Dziuba said the actors mastered some complicated songs, with many different lines sung concurrently. “They've really stepped up for this show,” she said.
Miller said that while she wants the actors to have fun performing the show she also hopes that they'll find it a positive learning experience.
“The show teaches how to find yourself, self-acceptance, how to work in a group, how to have confidence,” she said. “If I can help all these kids with that then I'll have succeeded as an educator.”
Tickets to the production cost $7 for general admission, $5 for students and $3 for seniors. Parents and siblings of the performers can purchase advance tickets for all three shows for $15. For more information contact Danielle Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 201-356-3700 x7210.