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March 7, 2017
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
There is all-round agreement that the Middle School girls have totally raised the bar with their recent theatre production, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. This sassy, tightly produced and engaging show was a collaboration between Drama teacher Amy Helsby, the Grade 7 and 8 cast and crew, and the Grade 10 assistants.

"Take a bow, Ms Helsby," says Principal Karen Jurjevich. "We could hardly believe this beautifully staged show was a Middle School production."

For the past six months, the cast has been working diligently to develop their characters, memorize lines and lyrics, learn challenging music, choreography, blocking, and countless entrances and exits.

Under the direction of Ms Helsby, the girls were encouraged to explore their own potential as they worked on their roles.

Says Ms Helsby: "The girls learned to contend with props, costumes, lighting and sound cues, all while keeping the pace of the show moving along and never dropping character when on stage."

"These are the elements that the audience gets to enjoy," she adds. "What they don't see, is the process—all the 'behind the scenes' things that help build the ensemble to get them to that level of performance."

In true Branksome-style collaboration, Ms Helsby double-cast many of the characters and asked the girls to discuss and choose which shows they would perform in. This enabled more girls to take on character roles and to learn together. She also encouraged independence and responsibility, by giving the actors their own bin of costumes and props—one per actor—to take care of.

Tayo, who played the role of Linus, is thrilled to have been part of the production. "I was able to creatively develop my singing and acting skills and I have made so many bonds with students from other grades," she says. "Being in the play has helped me become a more confident performer, and I am so glad I made the choice to audition at the beginning of the school year."

Mrs. Weinstock, an enthusiastic audience member, congratulates cast and crew on being curious, responsive risk takers who, "through dedicated hard work, developed their story telling and performance skills and brought this production to life."

Ms Helsby reflects:
"I saw girls take risks and step outside of their comfort zones.
I saw them laugh and be silly.
I saw them experience doubt and even cry when they felt overwhelmed.
I watched them celebrate when they finally learned a song with five different parts.
I saw them support each other when they made mistakes.
I saw the excitement when they got into their costumes for the first time.
And I saw the smiles on their faces and felt the buzz of excitement when they heard the audience applause on opening night."

Thank you to the entire cast and crew for transporting your audience into the world of Charlie Brown and friends, and for all the growth you experienced as you staged this wonderful show.

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