2006-08-24 / News

'Charlie Brown' gets a new director

By Sam Bari

The Jamestown C o m m u n i t y Theatre has an interim director for its fall production, and her name is Julibeth Andrews. She chose "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" for her directorial debut with the JCT. Unlike the original Broadway play of the early 1970s that featured grownups playing children, Andrews will cast kids in all the lead roles with adults as understudies.

An ambitious undertaking? You bet. Although Andrews was too young to be cast as the lead in "The Sound of Music," like the lady with a similar name, she is no less qualified to direct the Charles M. Schulz-inspired play. Armed with a bachelor's degree from Arizona State and a master's degree from the University of Rhode Island in vocal performance and pedagogy, an enormous amount of talent and years of experience, Andrews has both the credentials and the ability to not only pull it off, but to make the "Charlie Brown" production spectacular.

"I know it's a gutsy move," Andrews said. "But when the talent pool is available, and I know Jamestown has it, I just can't resist. Nothing is better than kids playing kids. The play was written from the "Peanuts" cartoon. It is comprised of vignettes, just like the comic strip. There is no real plot," she added.

"You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" is about the way we treat, perceive, and conduct ourselves around children. It's also about bullying, grown-ups and their odd behavior as seen through children's eyes. It's about all the things that are important to kids, like fear of failure, belonging, and acceptance," she continued.

Andrews scheduled 15 rehearsals before the first performance of the Charlie Brown play and noted that the cast will be highly responsible for learning and memorizing their parts. "We'll give them tapes and assemble a good team to help with the coaching, but they're going to have to do some homework," she added.

Born in Eau Claire, Wis., Andrews said that her family "moved a lot between Wisconsin and Arizona." However, if it weren't for their move to the west, she would never have met her mentor Gary Glaze, a professor at Arizona State University, where he was a visiting artist from the Metropolitan Opera. "He was a solo tenor with the Met. I so admired him because I always wanted to be an opera singer," she said.

"Gary Glaze was my inspiration for choosing the Charlie Brown play. When he was younger, he auditioned for "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" and the Metropolitan Opera on the same day. He was picked for both and chose the Met. He was that good," she said.

Andrews teaches voice, music history, and musical theater at both Salve Regina and Roger Williams universities. She has two children. Paul, 23, is a philosophy major at Arizona State, and Elizabeth, 19, is entering her first year at DePaul University in Chicago.

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