Stage Center Theatre 2012-2013 Season


You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Based on the Comic Strip "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
Originally Produced in New York by Arthur Whitelaw and Gene Persson
Originally Directed in New York by Joseph Hardy

Directed by Lisa Cantwell


Fall Semester, 2012



Poor Charlie Brown.  Try as he might, he can't seem to win a baseball game, fly a kite or muster up the courage to talk to that cute little redheaded girl. Oh, good grief!  Join us for this heartwarming musical about a day in the life of the singular, remarkable, unique Charlie Brown and an unforgettable ensemble including his nemesis Lucy, the blanket-loving Linus, the budding pianist Schroeder, his little sister Sally and his trusty beagle Snoopy.  Happiness is just a book report, a championship, a suppertime and a song away.


Cast_______________________________

Charlie Brown.............................................Isaac Samuelson
Lucy Van Pelt.................................................Arin Mulvaney
Sally Brown........................................................Ellen Cribbs
Snoopy.....................................................................Jill Matel
Linus Van Pelt..............................................Andrew Berlien
Schroeder.............................................................Jesus Matta
Ensemble:
“Marcie”.........................................................Sarah Beckette
“Peppermint Patty”...................................Nickolena Sellen
“Pig Pen”.............................................................Michael Slas
“Frida”............................................................. Lily Stephens


Sarah Beckette (Ensemble/“Marcie”) is currently at Northeastern working toward her degree in early childhood education and is excited to be in her third show at the Stage Center Theatre. She studied improv at Improv Olympic and has done multiple sketch comedy shows around Chicago. She would like to thank the cast of Charlie Brown for all the laughs, and interpretative dance-offs backstage, her family and friends for their constant love and sup-port, and Jesus... her favorite Barista for showing her 'happiness' each morning in the form of a caffeinated beverage. Much love for everyone who came out to support.


Andrew Berlien (Linus Van Pelt) is thrilled to be performing at the Stage Center Theatre again. A Chicago native, past productions include Fuddy Meers, Lucky Stiff, Charley’s Aunt, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Lend Me a Tenor among others. Andrew has also worked with Redmoon Theater, Theatre Momentum, and Funny Umbrella. Boundless love and affection go to Lisa, Bob, Kathy, and the entire cast and crew. Happiness has never been less fleeting.


Ellen Cribbs (Sally Brown) is over the moon to be back at the Stage Center Theatre after performing in A Man's World, You Can't Take It With You, As You Like It, and Hay Fever. She is used to playing a kid since she is an ensemble member with Imagination Theater and Fury Theatre and with several other companies. Ellen enjoys chasing rabbits with her dog, Darwin (great inspiration for Sally). She has loved working with this incredible cast and wants to thank the amazing Lisa for this wonderful experience. Happiness is working with these people. She would also like to thank her Mom for always traveling across the country to see her perform and sends her love to her own Charlie B., who is indeed a good man.


Jill Matel (Snoopy) is excited to playing one of her favorite characters Snoopy!! She is currently finishing her CMT degree at NEIU and has performed several times at the Stage Center. A choreographer as well, Jill has performed extensively in the Milwaukee and Chicago theater communities. Thanks to Lisa, the fabulous crew and the most talent cast ever!! "Happiness" is performing with you!! RJ LU


Jesus Matta (Schroeder) disappeared without a word after a long and illustrious career on stage and screen which included stints at the Goodman theatre and with the Albany Park Theater Project. Now after years in the cold, cruel ,boring, real world, he's back in showbiz! Big thanks to Lisa, Julie, and the funniest, sweetest, and most talented cast ever for welcoming me back into the world he missed so much. And a special shout out to all his pals whose encouragement and support helped him find his way home.


Arin Mulvaney (Lucy Van Pelt) is thrilled to be working with Lisa, Julie, and this amazingly talented and fun ensemble! Arin is the Managing Director of Fury Theatre and its outreach program, The Shakespeare AllStars. Arin recently made her directing debut with Fury's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Recent acting credits include Viola in Twelfth Night at the Stage Center Theatre and Anna in Drumming in the Night at Prop Thtr. Many thanks to her #1 fan, Mom, and to her love, Mark, for his support and encouragement!


Isaac Samuelson (Charlie Brown) graduated from the University of San Francisco and majored in Performing Arts and Social Justice. He was most recently in A Midsummer Night's Dream with many of the people you will see here tonight. He can also be seen around the city performing for children with the Shakespeare AllStars and Imagination Theater. He would like to thank everyone involved in making this show awesome and amazing! Especially our lovely director, Lisa. Happiness is eating an ice cream sandwich


Nickolena Sellen (Ensemble/“Peppermint Patty”) is a junior at NEIU and is majoring in Communication, Media and Theatre. She loves the theatre and has been seen as the Sour Kangaroo in Seussical the Musical, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, and a witch in The M Word. She's super excited to be in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and wants to send her love to the cast crew and her amazing family. She sincerely hopes you enjoy the show as much as she has.


Mike Slas (Ensemble/“Pig Pen”) is crazy thrilled to be in the Stage Center Theatre's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He's also been in A Man's World, The Misanthrope, and Fuddy Meers. He's glad to be working with some an amazing cast and crew. Thanks every-one!


Lily Stephens (Ensemble/“Frida”) is thrilled to be working with such a talented and fun ensemble. Past productions in-clude Fuddy Meers (Claire) and A Man's World (Lione). Lily is a re-cent graduate of the Second City conservatory program and is a generally absurd sort of person. An English major at NEIU, Lily hopes to someday earn a dishonest living in an attempt to appear interesting at parties—piracy perhaps. Lily would like to thank her family and friends for being the most incredible people as well as her "good man," Michael Slas.


Artistic Staff_____________________


John Portenlanger (Assistant Director/Dramaturg) is a graduate of an institu-tion known to historians as Northeastern Illinois State College (BA-1967) and NEIU (MA-Geography-1973), John had a successful and rewarding career teaching in the Chicago Public Schools. After he retired in 2009, he returned to Northeastern to take classes just for fun, eventually finding his way to the theatre department. He has appeared in Stage Center Theatre productions of Bleacher Bums, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night. He served as Assistant Director and Dramaturg while also providing live sound effects for the Chil-dren’s Theatre Production of A Toby Show. John is excited to be working again with Lisa and with such a talented cast. Many thanks to Jenna for showing me how much fun thea-tre can be and to Rodney, Dan, Anna, John, Lisa, and Ann for confirming it.

Yim Chiu (Stage Manager/Makeup Artist) is happy to be stage managing again for the third time at Stage Center NEIU. She has stage managed Censored on Final Approach and The Misanthrope. She is proud to finally say that after many struggles she is a profes-sional makeup artist. Biggest thanks to Lisa Cantwell for giving her this opportunity to be a part of this wonderful production. She also wants to thank the cast of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Special thanks to Patryk, Bella, and all her friends for always believ-ing in her and supporting her through her good and bad times. C&C!
Jenna Portenlanger (Asst Stage Manager) has appeared a few times in shows at Stage Center Theatre in As you Like It, Bleacher Bums, and Twelfth Night. She has also been in Stage Center's Children's Theatre productions of The Love of Three Oranges and Anne and the Tiger Raja. This marks her first production as part of the artistic staff and she is grate-ful to Lisa for the opportunity to be a part of such a fun show.

Jana Anderson (Costume Designer) has worked with the Stage Center Theatre for the last few years Her work has also been featured by numerous theatre groups includ-ing Redmoon Theatre, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, just to name a few. Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. When she is not preparing costumes for theatre productions, Jana is busy designing and creating unique haute couture fashions for individual clients in the US and Europe.
John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer) joined the theatre faculty at NEIU nine years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as a designer on Stage Center Theatre productions. Most recent designs include Around the World in Eighty Days, Bleacher Bums, Odd Couple, A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as Thymely Theatre’s productions of You Can’t Take It With You and As You Like It.

Lizz Otto-Cramer (Scenic Designer) is happy to be making her return to NEIU after a 5 year hiatus. A graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Lizz has designed, painted, and created props for numerous theatres throughout the nation, including the Kennedy Center and Universal Studios Hollywood. She greatly enjoys working with her students and fellow faculty at NEIU, and is excited to be teaching again.

Luke Sword (Sound Designer) is thrilled about helping to create the cartoony world of Charlie Brown. Through the years, Luke has shifted away from acting in order to work behind the scenes. He interned with the Raven Theater acting as run crew and videographer for the children’s summer camp. Most recently, he has designed sound for NEIU shows including Fuddy Meers, The Misanthrope, and Censored on Final Approach. He has enjoyed working on this production and is already looking forward to the next.

Lisa Cantwell (Director) earned her bachelor's degree at Northwestern University and recently received her Master's degree in Communication, Media and Theatre at NEIU. She is an instructor of theatre and also teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences Education Program (CASEP) at NEIU. Recent directing projects include How He Lied to Her Husband, Totally RED!, Dead Man's Cell Phone, The Love for Three Oranges, The Odd Cou-ple, and A Toby Show. Heartfelt thanks to sweet Jana, darling Lizz, John R., her Tony, and her Julie, her angel of music; to Rodney, her Colonel; and to the perfectly sublime cast and crew, there is no team like the best team which is our team right here. Eternal grati-tude to the exquisite Anna, the most perfect flower. And to Monkey and B, happiness is you.

Julie Crossen (Musical Director/Pianist) is happy to be back at NEIU's Stage Cen-ter! After receiving her M.A. in Vocal Pedagogy at Northeastern, she worked with the lovely Lisa Cantwell on Lucky Stiff as Musical Director. Julie spends her time running around town teaching voice and musical directing at Niles West, Maine East, KidStage, LoMastro Performing Arts, and her studio in Highland Park. Two of her favorite gigs are performing with her jazz combo at various Chicago area venues and hanging out at home with her kids, Kaleb and Jadyn, and an amazing guitarist she met at a stop light. She thanks the C. Brown folks for being so much fun!


Production Staff__________________
Producer...........................................................Rodney Higginbotham
Director...........................................................................Lisa Cantwell
Musical Director..............................................................Julie Crossen
Choreography......................................................Elle and the Peanuts
Assistant Director.................................................John Portenlanger
Stage Manager........................................................................Yim Chiu
Assistant Stage Manager......................................Jenna Portenlanger
Scenic Designer.........................................................Lizz Otto-Cramer
Costume Designer.........................................................Jana Anderson
Lighting Designer........................................................John Rodriguez
Sound Designer.................................................................Luke Sword
Costume Mistress............................................................Maria Barajas
Piano................................................................................Julie Crossen
Percussion......................................................................Kyle Corcoran
Bass................................................................................Will Gumbiner
Makeup Artist........................................................................Yim Chiu
Hair Stylist................................................................Nickolena Sellen
Sound Board Operator.........................................Jenna Portenlanger
Light Board Operator..............................................Roberto Gonzales
Set Construction....................................................Theatre Practicum
and Stagecraft Classes



Theatre Personnel________________
Managing Artistic Director...Rodney Higginbotham
Theatre Bookkeeper...Kristina Salearelli
Publications & Publicity Staff...Elizabeth Krahulec and Natalie Mayen
Newsletter Editor...Elizabeth Krahulec
Box Office & House Managers:
Deveon Bromby, Maciej Mardosz, Maria Barajas, and Blake Malley

Andrew Berlien (Linus), Ellen Cribbs (Sally), Jill Matel (Snoopy), Arin Mulvaney (Lucy), Isaac Samuelson (Charlie Brown)


Michael Slas (Ensemble), Lily Stephens (Ensemble), Nickolena Sellen (Ensemble), Sarah Beckette (Ensemble), Jesus Matta (Schroeder)


Michael Slas (Ensemble), Lily Stephens (Ensemble), Sarah Beckette (Ensemble), Jesus Matta (Schroeder), Nickolena Sellen (Ensemble)


Arin Mulvaney (Lucy), Isaac Samuelson (Charlie Brown), Andrew Berlien (Linus), Jill Matel (Snoopy), Ellen Cribbs (Sally)


Michael Slas (Ensemble), Lily Stephens (Ensemble), Nickolena Sellen (Ensemble), Jesus Matta (Schroeder), Sarah Beckette (Ensemble)

Director’s Note____________________
By Lisa Cantwell

As a kid, I used to think that Charles Schulz wrote the “Peanuts” comic strip for me. The characters were just like my friends on my block and at school. Everything that they said and all the emotions they experienced were things we went through each day. It was funny, most definitely, but what I would come to realize is that Schulz was also able to capture life in all of its variety in just those few panels, and to make it universally appealing. That was the beauty of it all, and his valentine to the world.

Growing up on the northwest side of Chicago, I couldn’t wait to get the Sunday newspapers every Saturday night. My brother and I fought to get the comics first, and with a little trickery, I usually won. I always read “Peanuts” first in a ritual that played itself out well into my teen years. My brother and I were a lot like Linus and Lucy; I was the bossy older sister and he was the cute younger brother whose constant companion was his blanket we nicknamed Softie. We were, all of the kids in the neighborhood, just like the Peanuts gang, a remarkable facsimile of each character type. We had our very own hapless but lovable Charlie Brown, the wide-eyed yet wise little sister Sally, the talented and focused Schroeder. There were kids just like Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Frieda and Pigpen. And there was always at least one Snoopy. Those were simpler times, every possible moment spent outside with our friends, while the grownups went about the usual things that grownups did. We played baseball on the corner, setting up the pitcher’s mound in the center of the intersection. A sewer cover was home plate, and center field was the opposite corner. None of the neighbors minded as we trampled through their yards. We would play until it was suppertime, which we would wolf down so that we could go back out and play until dark. In summertime we stayed out even later, playing until it was time for bed. During the winters, my best friend’s back yard (she lived in a house with a double lot!) was turned into a skating rink, and we would skate or play hockey until the snows melted in spring.
 
During the holidays every year, we would eagerly await the television specials, and since there were no video recorders yet, you had to carefully schedule your viewing or risk missing the shows until the next year. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was always my favorite, and I knew each word by heart.

As the years went by, my love for the Peanuts never faded. The first album that I bought with my then college boyfriend (and now husband) was “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” He had a small Charlie Brown tree in his dorm room that I tried to decorate and just about killed (really!) just like Charlie Brown. Every dog that I have ever owned has had the spirit of Snoopy, from my first dog, a rather dramatic basset hound named Fury, to our current dog, a rascally border terrier named Scout.

We now have a son who shares the same love for the Peanuts. Our house has adored and tattered Peanuts collections. We have a Snoopy snow cone maker that is just about the coolest thing ever. We have a video collection of Peanuts specials for all of the holidays. We have a mini reproduction of the actual Charlie Brown Christmas tree. But every year, we try to catch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when it is broadcast in real time. And we watch it under our very own Softie.

Thanks, Mr. Schulz.

Dramaturg’s Note_________________
By John Portenlanger
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a musical based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by car-toonist Charles Schulz. For 50 years (1950-2000), generations of Americans and fans around the world looked forward to the daily and Sunday comic that followed the adventures and trials of an endearing cast of characters dealing with the fears, anxieties, and frustrations of childhood. It could be said that Charles Schulz’s connections to the com-ics dated from his infancy. Born November 26, 1922, Schulz was given the nickname “Sparky” by his uncle Oscar a day or two after he was born. The name came from “Spark Plug” the horse in the popular comic strip “Barney Google”. The name stuck. Known all through childhood as “Sparky”, Schulz even used the name as a by line for his early works.

Sparky looked forward to reading the comics with his father, Carl and from little on he wanted to be a cartoonist. Considered an odd kid, he always carried a sketch pad and was always drawing. He decorated his notebooks in school with his versions of cartoon characters and soon was asked by classmates to draw them on their notebooks. In Febru-ary 1934, his mother, Dena saw a notice of an exhibition of cartoon art at the St. Paul, Minnesota (the Schulz’s home town) Public Library. One night after his dad closed his barber shop, his parents took him to the show. Young Charles was fascinated by the vivid look of the original artwork as well as by the editing notes scrawled in the margins. When he arrived back home, he compared his work to that of the pros and wound up tearing up all of his work and starting over.

The Schulz family had a dog named “Spike”. He was a beagle-pointer mix, white with black spots, and was a real character. Without being trained, he learned to ring the doorbell when he wanted to come in. When he wanted a drink (he only liked cold running water), he would put his front paws on the bathroom sink and patiently wait for someone to turn on the tap. On Saturday nights, he put his paw on Carl’s chair to re-mind him to go out for the early edition of the Sunday paper, riding along in the car. He somehow knew to only do this on Saturday. Sparky chronicled some of Spike’s feats, illustrated them, and submitted his drawings and narrative to the comic “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”. His submission was chosen for publication on February 22, 1937. It carried the notation “Drawn by Sparky”. At age 14, Charles Schulz was a published cartoonist!

While still in high school, Schulz answered a newspaper ad for a correspondence course in drawing from The Federal School of Illustrating and Cartooning. His parents scraped together the $170 tuition fee (70% higher than tuition at the University of Minnesota), and his formal art education began. Drafted within days of his 20th birthday in Novem-ber, 1942, Sparky had to leave for training at Camp Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border the day after his mother’s funeral (she had died of cancer after a long illness). Overcoming his grief, he served over three years in the U.S. Army as a weapons instructor and machine gun squad leader eventually seeing combat duty in Europe during World War II. He achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant.

After the war, he got his first two jobs in cartooning, working as an instructor at his alma mater, Federal School-now called Art Instruction Schools Inc. and as a letterer for Timeless Topix, a Catholic comic magazine. The magazine also ran a monthly panel comic by Sparky called Just keep Laughing. He also sent in panels featuring children, which he called Li’l Folks, to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. They featured prototypes of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The paper bought them! His work was also published in The Saturday Evening Post (1948-1950). In 1950, Schulz submitted samples of panel and strip versions of Li’l Folks to United Feature Syndicate. They liked the strip version and the famous comic strip, retitled Peanuts was born.

All of the drawing, writing, lettering, the entire creative product was the work of Schulz himself. In all, 17,897 Peanuts comic strips appeared. At its peak, it ran in 2,600 newspa-pers in 75 countries and was translated into 21 languages. Translation was no small task con-sidering the fact that nuances of American English often prohibited direct translation. For example, Snoopy eating his supper says, “Scarf City.” Scarfing food has nothing to do with a garment worn around the neck nor does this expression have anything to do with an urban area (things that complicate the translation).

Frozen in time at age eight, Charlie Brown and his pint-size friends dealt with a world that often involved personal and societal problems as seen from the point of view of a child, with the simple, straightforward honesty of that stage of life.

On November 16, 1999, after 50+ years and 15, 390 daily Peanuts strips, Charles Schulz was finishing his weekly set, scheduled for the week ending Saturday, January 1, 2000, when, on the verge of collapsing he said to his new creative director, Paige Braddock, “Oh Paige, I am feeling really strange.” He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. He announced his retirement to his fans in a letter dated December 14, 1999 and again in an interview with Al Roker on the Today show five days before Christmas. The newspaper, on February 13, 2000, that carried his last Sunday Peanuts strip, also carried the news that Charles Schulz had passed away on February 12, 2000.

In 1965, composer and lyricist Clark Gesner wrote a series of musical vignettes, in a variety of musical styles, called You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The songs, based on moments in the lives of the Peanuts characters was released as an audio recording with Orson Bean as Charlie Brown, in October, 1966. Producer Arthur Whitelaw secured rights to adapt the album for stage. The show opened Off-Broadway at Theater 80 St. Mark’s to rave reviews. It ran at that 199-seat theatre for 1,597 sold-out performances. Spawning thirteen American and fifteen international touring companies, it became a hit around the world.

The most charming aspect of the musical is the way it captures the essence of the Peanuts characters. Charlie Brown, for whom life is a constant struggle in spite of his efforts to do right thing; Snoopy, with his vivid imagination which provides a possible answer to the question, “What is the dog thinking?”; Lucy, a complaining, crabby, fussbudget; Linus, the insecure philosopher; Schroeder, the Beethoven devotee who is the object of Lucy’s affection; and the rest of the gang.

We at Northeastern Illinois University’s Stage Center Theatre hope you enjoy our production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Sources: Michaels, David. Schulz and Peanuts. Harper, New York, 2007.
Schulz, Charles M. with Kiliper, R. Smith. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me. Doubleday, Garden City, NY. 1980.

Special thanks to
Katrina BellJordan; Rodney Higginbotham; Anna Antaramian; Jana
Anderson; Julie Crossen; Lizz OttoCramer; John Rodriguez; Alan
Mace; Karol Bayley; all of my colleagues in the Department of Communication,
Media and Theatre; Jeff Kowalkowski; Angela Zuniga;
Elizabeth Krahulec; Blake Malley; Natalie; Maria; Deveon; and Maciej.
And to Andy, Arin, Ellen, Isaac, Jesus, Jill, Lily, Michael, Nickolena,
Sarah, Yim, John P., Jenna, Luke, Kyle, Will, and Roberto...you all
make my heart sing.
                 

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