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Young director leads Stagehands in "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown"

The Spring Valley Stagehands will present what the troupe says will be an up-beat version of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." Zach Dwyer / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
The Spring Valley Stagehands will present "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" on July 19-22 and 26-29. Zach Dwyer / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

SPRING VALLEY — Ethan Hayes may only be 21 years old, but he has been involved with the Spring Valley Stagehands since before he was a freshman in high school. He will get his second chance at directing a play this month as the community theatre will present "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" on July 19-22 and 26-29.

Hayes will direct a cast of peers of high schoolers and young adults in the classic play about Charles Schultz's popular "Peanuts" comic strip. Hayes has been involved with theatER since he was 5 and got his first experience directing during the last Stagehands production of "Drowsy Chaperone."

"I learned to have a full cast before you start running the show," Hayes said. "Also to take less responsibilities on, since directing is a giant responsibility."

These responsibilities can include set design, props, running the music and making the costumes. Besides using some dance moves from "Drowsy Chaperone," "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" will be a completely different process. The musical has about 22 songs, with more than a dozen actually sung by the cast.

"I do sing, but I'm not skilled in teaching music," Hayes said. "That's always been a challenge, and we've only had one large group practice to teach everyone their vocal parts."

Hayes said his version of they play is more of a combination of the classic 1967 musical comedy and a newer version that's more for the current generation of kids.

"It normally is a really depressing show," Hayes said. "(Our version) shows more of the optimism that life can show that people may not see. It's not all pessimistic views."

Hayes said this allows it to be a musical for all generations, compared to his work with the "Drowsy Chaperone," which was only for adults.

"This is still the Charlie Brown that (the audience) grew up with," Hayes said. "This show can play to every generation. Whether it's a senior citizen or a two year old, they could enjoy the show for different aspects of it."

The role of Charlie Brown is played by Brayden Curtis, one of many experienced performers in the cast. Stepping into the emotional role of Charlie Brown has been one of the biggest processes for playing the part.

"It's been learning the similarities between him and me," Curtis said. "He's optimistic yet full of anxiety; it makes it easier to play since I know the character."

Curtis added that he anticipates the audience really liking the play for its comedy and music. He said songs including "The Book Report", "Beethoven's Day" and the "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" opening theme will be memorable for the audience.

Hayes said that the biggest challenge of directing a play is trying to incorporate everybody else's ideas. It makes him balance it being his production while still making everybody feel comfortable and putting on what he envisions.

The Stagehands usually put on between four and six productions each year. The atmosphere of the theater is one of Hayes' favorite aspects of the experience.

"I've been at about 12 different theaters, and this one has more of a home-feel," Hayes said. "You don't get a lot of condescending people, and you grow as a family. It becomes our home."

The 1 hour, 45 minute musical will premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19. Tickets can be pre-ordered online at

Zach Dwyer

Zach Dwyer is a senior journalism student at UW-River Falls. He is an intern reporter for RiverTown Multimedia during the summer of 2018 covering features and sports. He was previously a news intern in the summer of 2017 for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. 

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