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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 2 years ago

Horizon West Theater Company presents inaugural youth production

The Horizon West Theater Company’s New Horizon Players are set to perform ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’ Jan. 16 to 18.
by: Eric Gutierrez Former Staff Writer

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang are set to hit the stage this week.

The Horizon West Theater Company’s New Horizon Players will be presenting its inaugural youth production, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” from Jan. 16 to 18. The show will be held at the Cypress Center for the Arts at Windermere Preparatory School; 6189 Winter Garden Vineland Road, Windermere. 

“It’s a classic,” Director Melissa Kratish Depot said. “It’s something that both kids and adults can identify with, and we wanted to make sure that, as part of our season, we had an opportunity to showcase some of the talented kids in the area.”

The upcoming musical follows different tales of Charlie Brown and Peanuts. Themes of friendship, happiness and enjoying life as a child are apparent throughout the show. The Horizon West Theater Company’s rendition of the musical will be based on the original 1967 edition.

“The show is actually made up of individual vignettes,” Depot said. “It’s not just one story that leads all the way through, but it’s scenes that actually came from the comics. It’s broken up into little, miniature stories along the way.”

Dozens of local children auditioned for the Horizon West Theater company’s inaugural youth production, but the show itself only has a cast of six. To feature more of the young talent from Horizon West, the members of the theater company decided to double the cast size. The show’s cast members range from ages 8 to 14.

“We had (more than) 40 really talented kids come out and audition, and the decision-making process was so tough that we decided to double-cast,” Depot said. 

Lucas Blanco plays the role of Schroeder in Cast A of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Lucas Blanco, 14, a freshman at Windermere High School, will play Schroeder in Cast A of the show. Aside from having a teacher in the fourth grade who was a big fan of Charlie Brown, Blanco hasn’t been exposed much to the popular cartoon and comic characters. He began watching some of the cartoons and even dabbled in a little method acting to help prepare himself for the role.

“I go to sleep to Beethoven’s music now every day,” Blanco said of his preparation for the role. “On Thanksgiving, I watched the (Charlie Brown) Thanksgiving (episode). I watched the Christmas one halfway through, but I’ve got to finish it.

“It’s a very fun (show),” Blanco said. “If you grew up with the Peanuts, it’s cool to see our take on it, and it’s a fun time.” 

Depot said that because of the holidays, getting all the cast members together for rehearsals was a challenge. To address that, cast members were given “homework assignments” and were encouraged to rehearse and practice at home. Some of those assignments involved watching some of the Charlie Brown cartoons and different renditions of the musical on YouTube.

“These kids blow me away every day,” Depot said. “Some of the talent that walked in — you just don’t expect it from kids. … They’re on a professional level.”

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Eric Gutierrez was a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Southwest Orange Observer....

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