The Mt. Ararat Stage Company rehearses ahead of the March 4 opening of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” John Terhune / The Forecaster

Good grief.

For two years, COVID-19 has stymied local school arts programs, forcing bands outdoors and acting troupes online. Even as schools have inched back toward normalcy, musical theater and its noisy, crowded stages haven’t often been possible.

But on Friday, two long years after their last musical performance, the high schoolers of the Mt. Ararat Stage Company will dance across the stage again with their opening performance of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

“I’m just so excited to perform for people,” said senior Rachel Eaton, who plays Sally Brown, the little sister of the funny pages’ most famous 5-year-old. “It’s just been so long since I’ve been able to sing in front of people.”

The group will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 4 and March 5 before closing with a 3 o’clock performance March 6. Tickets for each performance, which will be held at the Orion Performing Arts Center at Mt. Ararat Middle School, will cost $15 for adults and $12 for students, school staff and seniors.

Charlie Brown, played by Chase Ross, visits Lucy’s psychiatry booth. Avery Myrick plays Lucy. John Terhune / The Forecaster

The show, based on the 1999 revival of Clark Gesner’s 1967 off-Broadway hit, is composed of a series of vignettes that examine relationships and growing up, according to Kristen Thomas, the group’s co-advisor.


“It’s kind of like attending two months’ worth of Sunday comic strips,” said Thomas, who also directs the school’s choir. “Each Sunday is a different strip.”

Senior Chase Ross, who plays the show’s titular character, said it’s been fun getting to look at the world through the eyes of a child.

“They have the smallest issues,” he said. “But to them it’s big.”

Putting together shows during a global pandemic has provided plenty of issues big and small for the group, which will perform in masks per district rules, according to director Adam Blais. Yet even as COVID forced the group to close its doors to live audiences last year and instead perform “Clue” remotely, Blais and Thomas pushed their cast to make the most of the situation.

“My rule of thumb the entire time has been embracing the pandemic as a character in the play,” said Blais, who also works as the education and  development manager at the Public Theater in Lewiston.

Blais’ stars acknowledged the trials and tribulations of performing with masks. Because much of their faces aren’t visible to the audience, they’ve needed to find new ways to convey emotion and to alert to the audience to which character is speaking.


Sally Brown (Rachel Eaton) and Snoopy (Carly Satterfield) play tug-of-war with a jump rope. John Terhune / The Forecaster

Yet they’ve also embraced Blais’ philosophy of “taking challenges in stride.”

“Even before COVID, there’s always something that goes wrong,” Ross said. “You can’t prevent it.”

The show won’t look exactly like the company’s ambitious musicals of the past, Blais said. Pandemic concerns have prevented the group from performing with a live pit orchestra, and the musical’s tiny cast might look modest compared to the school’s 2020 production of “Newsies!

But for the company’s senior stars, the show’s challenges pale in comparison to the excitement of performing in front of a crowd again.

“You’re so driven by the audience,” Eaton said.  The audience is what makes a show great, really.”

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