(Review) Charlie Brown’s Cast B Performance

NOTE: This week we are covering Cast B’s Charlie Brown. Check us out next time for an in-depth on Cast A what it was like to perform and see this show for and from a deaf and hard of hearing audience!

  “You know, for what it’s worth Charlie Brown, you’re you!”

Lucy Van Pelt (Jayda Aubrey), The Dr. Is In

Charlie Brown – a family favorite, a holiday-time classic, and now a play you can watch live!

Cast A performed Charlie Brown two times in a row, from October 29th to October 30th. Our Newspaper staff watched the Friday show, which lasted two hours for $10 at the door.

(insert photo of casting, updated as needed)

One of our newspaper staff, Yunus Ali, stayed to watch rehearsals that went on right after school. This is what he had to say about the pre-performance practices:

“Some people knew their lines without the beats or music cues to assist.. which was crazy. They were just fun to watch because they knew their play so well”

So we got to the show with time to spare. It began with an abrupt shutting of the lights and Mr. Thompson’s soothingly stern voice reciting the prohibition of recording devices etc. (luckily for us, we got permission from the legend himself beforehand!)

Let the show commence!

Is the little red-haired girl looking?

Ryan Campbell is our star Charlie Brown for this show. Ryan played Charlie with loads of voice intonations and expressions up his sleeve. On stage, he was natural and fluid. Scenes like his “lunchtime” monologue stood out and showed off the awkward, clumsy, yet somehow cool approach he took to the character. Truly a fitting Charlie Brown!

The next character we are introduced to is Linus Van Pelt, played by Isaiah Esparza. Isaiah took his role very seriously; he knew Linus had to have a connection with his blanket, and we know that Isaiah certainly formed something with his. Too, Isaiah made sure to express the childlike innocence of Linus – constant swaying, thumb-sucking, and aloof clumsiness were all purposeful in his performance. He told us that the most difficult part of the play was memorizing his lines due to the lengthy, wordy monologues he had– very characteristic of Linus. 

The character of Sally was played by a freshman this year, Madison Moreno, but she did not give the aura of one whatsoever. Really fooled all of us that night – she shined so brightly and portrayed the essence of Sally wonderfully. If you don’t buy it from us – get this. We asked cast members we interviewed to shout out one actor from either show. Out of those we interviewed, three just as talented actors pointed Madison in our direction.

A “C” on my project?!

Xander O (Cast A’s Linus): Madison Moreno! She is Sally for Cast B and while it is her first Highland production, she is doing very good for her first time!

Madelyn Resendiz (Cast A’s Lidia): I would shout out Madison Moreno because she is very talented and a freshman like myself!

Jocelyn Barrison (Cast B’s Schroder): It would be Maddy Moreno! Sally!

Speaking of Jocelyn, she’s up next during the cast introductions. She played a very serious yet notably passionate Schroder, the main character she auditioned for and hoped to get. Though she said the most difficult thing was practicing with the double cast. When directors taught, they had to teach both versions of the cast at the same time.

“Sometimes I marvel at his consistency”

Something everyone should know about Jocelyn – she loves watching Charlie Brown in Mrs. Hertzog’s class! 

“That’ll be 5 cents please”

Next is Lucy, the crabbiest character, played by Jayda Aubrey. This character is meant to get under the skin of Charlie Brown whenever possible, and she definitely accomplished that! Something that shines the greatest in Jayda’s performances is her strong singing voice – it really is so beautiful!

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” opens with the first song, where all cast members are present to sing and showcase themselves. In riding a school bus driven by Snoopy, you are immersed into the silly world of Charlie Brown right off the bat. This is also a favorite musical number for many cast members, such as Ryan Campbell (Charlie himself!) and Jocelyn Barrison. Jocelyn notes: “This is going to sound so corny, but it’s the first song – it’s so good! The harmonies are so underappreciated!”

Do you know something, Schroeder?

The second song on the setlist is Schroeder (Moonlight Sonata) – sung by Lucy (Jayda Aubrey) as Schroeder (Jocelyn Barrison) plays Beethoven indifferent to Lucy’s insistence throughout the scene. The operatic vocals of Lucy set the somber tone of the scene perfectly. It’s such a captivating performance, even given the fact that it’s no more than 2 minutes long.

“I just gotta bite!”

Then we move on to the first Snoopy solo performance. For this show, Katie Johnson plays Snoopy – and with such an invigorating passion that only she could capture. Spunky and fresh, Snoopy (Katie Johnson) alongside sidekick Woodstock (Rian Brandon) adds an entirely new level of comic relief to the play. “Snoopy”, “The Red Barron”, and “Suppertime” are all numbers this duo just absolutely eats up – no crumbs, no crumbs! 

Linus and his blanket do an impressive dance number!

This was followed by many other performances that often put the spotlight on a specific character – such as Linus’ “My Blanket and Me”, Schrodner’s “Beethoven Day”, Sally’s “My New Philosophy” and Charlie Brown’s “The Kite.” The dance numbers in the first two – and the suspense of kite-flying in the last – were impressive spectacles. 

Snoopy commercialized Beethoven day!

Nearing the end, the whole cast came on stage to reenact a baseball game. It was a fun watch where everyone sung and took up the bat after Schroodner made rivals with the opposing team. Snoopy and Woodstock especially shine in jittering about stage, as silly animals do. 

The wrap-up song “Happiness” was sung and signed in ASL. This pays homage to the ASL-accessible show Cast A did the night prior — an article on that performance is in the works!

“Happiness is anything and anyone at all~”

“I guess it hasn’t been such a bad day after all!” 

So the play is centered around loads of mini stories and snippets to capture the theme of simple, everyday life Charlie Brown is known for. Every single one of the actors breathed life into this theatrical performance to carry on the musical charm Highland is now known for. Up next for many of the cast members tonight is auditioning for The Addams Family! It’s going to be a wickedly good one; bring on the grief!

“The Highland production team – not just the actors but the behind-the-scenes, the directors, the tech – everyone puts in so much work. Our productions go beyond the talent, that’s what makes us different. It’s how we have a really supportive background team.” – Jocelyn Barrison (Schroder)

With cheer all around, the actors gave one last bow. Then – something special. Mr. Thompson introduces the Highland Legacy Robe, something Xander Orozco was rewarded last year for all he put into Beauty and the Beast. Mr. Thompson tells the audience that this robe is typically rewarded to a cast member on ensemble that has been exceptionally outstanding. The Legacy Robe recipient is able to add a piece of themselves to the robe – as Xander did last year with a B&B themed embroidery. 

So… without further ado… 

Congratulations Rian Brandon! Rian played in both Cast A & B as Woodstock, companion of Snoopy. Rian continues the theatre department’s legacy by putting on enticing performances without fail. Rian told us that she gave up her varsity cheer career (of five years!) to put all her effort into this performance and more to come. Truly dedicated to the stage, and even with having to take on the role of Cast A as well, Rian has proved herself as a theatrical weapon! Let’s go, Rian!!!!! & obligatory shout-out from Charlie Brown “Rian Brandon is the one person I would shout out because she’s a great actor and my girlfriend!”

Yunus Ali, Reporter & Photographer

Jack Ho and Jorel Ho, reporters

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