You’re Socially Distanced, Charlie Brown!

On October 2 and 3, the MSU theatre department put on the first musical of the semester, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown! at the Priddy Pavilion.

Rehearsals began on August 25, primarily held over Zoom. Only two in-person rehearsals were held before the first performance.

“Rehearsing for a live show digitally was a very odd experience,” Luke Craddock, theatre freshman who played Charlie Brown, said.

After COVID-19 has pushed performances and rehearsals to a virtual or outdoor stage, students can expect to see more shows follow suit. As an interaction-heavy art, theatre has had to make adjustments to ensure the safety of the cast and crew while still bringing entertainment to their audiences. 

“Usually we store [costumes and props] in the theatre and [actors] set them and get dressed here,” Nikki Anderson, the stage manager for the show, said, “but we had them come in costume and bring their own props.”

All of the actors remained six feet apart and never touched each other or other character’s props through the whole performance. Every time a cast member exited the stage, they were required to put a mask on. 

“Despite the fact that we started off very disassociated from one another,” Margaret Bledsoe, theatre education junior who played Lucy Van Pelt, said. “We were able to come together and create live art, something we haven’t gotten to enjoy for months since this pandemic began.”

The biggest difference for this show was the transition to an outdoor stage. The cast and crew faced new challenges like weather, traffic, bugs and animals. 

“Being outdoors always has different elements to interact with,” Morgan Mallory, director and choreographer, said. “It provided us a chance to think outside the box with our process and have fun!”

The show sold out almost immediately as tickets went on sale. Despite the sudden adjustments, not to just theatre, but to everybody’s lives, the show was a success.

“Theatre can happen no matter what,” Craddock said. 

As the Coronavirus pandemic develops, the future of theatre performance is still in question. However, Mallory thought it was inevitable that theatre would transfer online.

“Everything is shifting to the digital world around us,” she said. “It was only a matter of time.”

The pandemic has shaken our world, but it is also showing us how to connect with each other without physical connection.

“I think that even though bad things happen in this world, it is our job to help each other through those bad times by creating, sharing, and connecting with one another through art,” Bledsoe said.

Despite the performance aspect of theatre changing, the sense of community still remains.

“With or without COVID, I think this department is growing and working toward something truly amazing,” Craddock said.