news-category: Performing Arts

Gardner-Webb Students Face Challenges of COVID-19 to Present Beloved Musical

First Production of the Spring Season Features Two Casts in ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—When “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” opens on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in Gardner-Webb University’s Dover Theatre, it will be the result of a group of dedicated students and a director who persevered despite the challenges they faced.

“A tremendous amount of work has gone into this production, in cast, crew, orchestra/music direction, and design team, and we are proud of it,” praised Dr. Chris Nelson, director and assistant professor of theatre arts and department chair. “We rehearsed with two casts and in masks, and that’s especially hard for a musical. Also we had to operate on an accelerated schedule because we couldn’t audition the show in December the way we usually do, because of changes to the semester. These were big hurdles, plus just the outside chance we’d have to pause for COVID-19 reasons.”

A photo of Elie Brinson standing in front of Snoopy's dog house.
Elie Brinson

Theatre major Elie Brinson is excited to play Lucy, because she gets to have fun acting like a kid on stage. She was in a production of Charlie Brown in high school and also thought it would be interesting to do the play again with different people and in a different setting. “The biggest challenge of this production was having to adjust to an accelerated schedule,” she shared. “We had to incorporate music, blocking, dance, and crew roles in a very limited amount of time. But we came out strong!”

Cheyenne McCall, a senior worship leadership major, is the other Lucy in the show. “What I love the most about playing Lucy is the fact that event though she is completely wrong most of the time, her confidence gets her so far,” McCall observed. “She has such a strong will and I admire that about her.”

A photo of Cheyenne McCall in front of Snoopy's dog house
Cheyenne McCall

She added, “It’s also great to be able to say that we are doing something so ‘normal’ during this pandemic. Professional actors aren’t even given the chance to do what we are doing at this point in time.”

The stage manager for the show is Ely Thompson, a communications major with a concentration in photography and technical theatre. She is pleased with how the show has come together and appreciates the experience of being a stage manager for a musical. One of the biggest challenges for the cast and crew was the rehearsal schedule. “With the curfew, we had to move back our rehearsal times, so it has been a major challenge to students and tech,” she explained. “Eating dinner at 5, getting ready at 5:30, warm ups 5:45, then we start running things at 6. They have had to adjust to odd eating schedules, being more intentional with their time, and so on.”

Markus Byrd sitting on Snoopy's dog house
Markus Byrd

Schroeder is played by Markus Byrd, a theatre major who expects to graduate in 2023. “I love doing musicals, and loved this soundtrack the first time I listened to it,” Byrd reflected. “‘Beethoven Day’ is such a fun and soulful song, and everyone gets to be a part of it. I think people who attend will enjoy the fun and quirky set. The great acting, the songs, and the choreography—it’s all done so well.     

Marshall Townsend, a senior theatre major with a minor in creative writing, took the role of Linus, because he wanted a challenge. “Despite being in the opera Little Red Riding Hood last year, I am not confident when it comes to singing,” he related. “I feel more comfortable in standard plays, but being in a musical theatre production pushed me to work on my singing abilities and find how I work with my voice. I also wanted to try being a character that is very popular. I haven’t had a lot of experience playing characters like this outside of high school, so it’s interesting to take a well-known character and make him my own.”

Marshall Townsend sitting on Snoopy's dog house
Marshall Townsend

He also said blocking the show was difficult, because the cast had to practice social distancing but still find a way to engage the audience. “I think the audience will have a great time watching a good old-fashioned musical and its comedic moments and sweet nature,” Townsend asserted. “This show is devoted to the comic strip origins, as the segments lead up to a complete story about the life of Charlie Brown.”   

Performances are also scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 26-27 and at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. Tickets are required and must be purchased here.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event. Please call (704) 406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Cast

Charlie Brown — Chris Adams

Lucy — Cheyenne McCall (Thursday/Saturday); Elie Brinson (Friday/Sunday)

Linus — Marshall Townsend

Sally — Brittany Polburn (Thursday/Saturday) Rebecca Belk (Friday/Sunday)

Schroeder — Dontavious Lloyd (Thursday/Saturday) Markus Byrd (Friday/Sunday)

Snoopy — Faith Augustine (Thursday/Saturday) Nick Howell (Friday/Sunday)

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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