Source: Hometown Life
Author: Brad Kadrich
Benjamin Hawn said he watched the Mercy High School actors on stage last year, when he was in the orchestra pit for the school's production of "Sound of Music."
It looked like they were having such a good time, it occurred to Hawn that he, too, might enjoy acting.
So, he gave it a shot. And now this self-described "kind of awkward" actor is leading Mercy's fall production, playing the title role in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
And he was right about the fun.
"When I was in the pit, I saw everyone was having so much fun, and I wanted to give it a try," said Hawn, now a senior at Redford Union High School. "Everyone tells me I'm perfect for (Charlie Brown). Everyone here is so nice, and so great. It's been a blast."
Hawn joins a cast of 25 actors in the fall musical, directed by Kathy Sill, who heads up the 22nd musical of her Mercy directorial career. She dialed up the Peanuts gang this year after she noticed the crowd reaction to last year's production of "Sound of Music."
That crowd, Sill said, indicated to her that, in today's environment, audiences are looking for more family friendly fare. And how much more family friendly does it get than the Peanuts gang?
"Last year after 'Sound of Music' we realized people were looking for wholesome shows," Sill said. "So we chose a family show."
Auditions took place back in August, just before school started, and rehearsals started soon after. Though the show centers around the six main Peanuts characters — Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus Van Pelt, Sally Brown, the piano-playing Schroeder and Snoopy — Mercy has added an additional 19 actors to fill out the production.
Sophomore Emma Pickett plays Charlie Brown's primary protagonist, Lucy Van Pelt. While it's her third show at Mercy, Pickett has been acting since she was 7, and she's finding playing the obnoxious Lucy a dream role.
"She's a lot of fun to play," Pickett said. "It's fun to let loose and be crabby. I'm not like that in real life, so it's fun to be someone I'm not."
Sophomore Kylie Kreucher, who plays Charlie Brown's sister, Sally, is an admittedly huge fan of Broadway actress Kristen Chenoweth, who has played the role on stage in the past. That's why Kreucher, 15, auditioned for the part.
"(Chenoweth) is my idol ... I knew this would be a bit of a challenge, but I wanted to play it because (Chenoweth) did," Kreucher said. "I was told to talk a bit high and whiny, which I normally don't, so that's been kind of a challenge."
There's that sort of challenge for all of the actors. For instance, Jonathon Stecevic doesn't necessarily have a favorite blanket, much less one he refuses to put down. But the 17-year-old Aim High School senior has spent the last couple of months developing a close relationship with one as he prepares to play Linus.
"One of the main points about Linus is people see him with his blanket," said Stecevic, who first appeared on stage in 2015's "Anything Goes." "Trying to build a relationship with a piece of fabric has been a challenge."
But that's been part of the challenge for the whole cast, according to Sill. Because the cast is small, she said, the actors have "bonded beautifully."
"This has been surprisingly delightful," Sill said. "You're working in a children's world, so everyone had to become a child."
"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" hits the Mercy High School stage with 7:30 p.m. performances Nov. 4-6. Tickets are $13, available during school hours or at the door. Mercy High School is located at 29300 W. 11 Mile (at Middlebelt), in Farmington Hills. For information, call 248-893-3572.