Thomas County Central High School youth thespians donned the colorful wardrobe and lovable personas of the Peanuts gang for the TC Masquers’ staging of “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" as its annual one-act play and competition entry.
The group placed third overall in the Georgia High School Association Region 1-5A One-Act Competition.
“I am so proud of these students,” director Gabrielle McMullen said. “It has been such a treat to work with them over the years and see their growth [both] on the stage and off. I am also immensely impressed because this is the first time that TCCHS has taken a musical to competition. A musical takes so much more time and dedication to work on than a straight play between learning the lines, music and choreography.”
Also, three actors earned special accolades for their performances: Cameron Parker won the Region 1-5A Best Supporting Actor award, and Stephen Sykes and Ta’sina Copeland made the Region 1-5A All-Star Cast.
“It feels great because I have never won anything like this at one act before,” junior Cameron Parker said of his award. “It feels nice to know that people think I am a good actor.”
Parker, 16, portrayed Linus van Pelt.
“I relate to him in how he talks a lot and is dependent on things (his blanket), and I wanted to play him because I really liked his song ‘My Blanket & Me,’” he said.
Senior Stephen Sykes, 18, donned the iconic yellow and black wardrobe of titular hero Charlie Brown. This is his third consecutive year named to the region’s all-star cast.
“I feel very honored,” Sykes said of the recognition. “It shows my continued dedication to my craft. I relate to this character because I understand his feelings of being the center of attention but feeling like he is on the outskirts of the friend group. I wanted to play him because it is my senior year, and I wanted to have a lead singing role that fits my range well.”
Junior Ta'sina Copeland, 17, embodied Charlie Brown’s beloved beagle, Snoopy.
“I related to him because he is a happy, loving and playful character, and that's how I strive to be,” she said. “I also really enjoyed putting my acrobatic skills to use.”
Receiving all-star recognition, she adds, makes her really excited and very encouraged to continue pursuing theater.
McMullen chose “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" after hearing a song from the original Broadway production, “The Book Report,” come on the satellite radio station she listens to while driving home one late February day.
“I had this almost visionary moment where I pictured the masquers singing and knew that this had to be our one-act for this year,” she said. “This show was a great fit for our department because the cast is fairly small (only six actors) but can be expanded to fit others from the Peanuts gang.”
First, the TC Masquers performed the show for its community during a three-night run at the Thomas County Board of Education Auditorium.
“The performances went amazingly well,” McMullen said. “We had a great turn out, and the kids rocked it every single night! The audiences responded to the show really well, and I think that's because the Peanuts gang is so recognizable and universally loved.”
Also, the group participated in the "Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eat" campaign via the International Thespian Troupe. The TC Masquers collected canned goods during the shows. For a reduced ticket price, individuals wishing to see the show could donate three items.
Next came the annual competition on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Harris County High School in Hamilton.
“It is important to participate because it allows us to compete and show other schools what we are capable of in areas other than sports,” McMullen said.
The student performers enjoyed the experience. And they picked up a few tricks of the trade.
“It's fun to meet the kids from the other schools and see how they act and sing,” Parker said. “It's good because I get to pick up on little tidbits from other performances and incorporate them into my acting toolbox.”
Copeland loves participating in the competition and feels it helps her grow as an actress.
“I liked meeting other people involved in my craft and listening to their comments on my performance,” she said. “I learned a lot and took the judges' criticisms to heart so that I can continue to grow as an actress.”
Sykes found the experience amazing and took specific pride in the outcome of the TC Masquers’ performance.
“It's amazing to be around other students my age who have a love and dedication to theater as much as I do,” he said. “I love the play we were able to perform this year because this is the first year that we have ever taken a musical to competition. And since I was the musical director for the show, every time we got a compliment about the music, I felt a sense of pride.”
Now, TC Masquers are hard at work on their next production, “The Other Room” by Ariadne Blade.