Provo’s Timpview High School Theatre was not quite halfway through an eight-show run of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown when the production was shut down due to a natural disaster and a pandemic. However, the arts shone through the shutdown due to a video that was created to showcase the event.
Oliver Estrada-Brown initiated the creation of a promotional video for the production. “He made all the props and rewrote a brand-new script,” said Lehua Estrada, Oliver’s mother.
The musical ran three-and-a-half times during the first week of November. During the fourth performance, everyone was told to leave the school immediately due to a wildfire nearby, so only half of the production was performed.
After that, state restrictions were issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the remainder of the shows were cancelled. “In a way, it was sad and in another way, it was great that he did this video because he and his friends now have some memories of it” Lehua said. “Some parents didn’t get to see it, so the video is all that we got.”
“We were pretty sad about it,” Oliver said about the production being shut down. “One cast mate only performed the night of the fire. A lot of the roles were double-cast.” Additionally, Oliver said that the cast and crew members prepared for the shows for several weeks.
However, even though the production ended abruptly and many people had not had the opportunity to see it yet, the promotional video softened the blow. Parents and students could still view the video and at least get an idea of the amount of work and talent that went into preparing for the shows.
Because of copyright guidelines, actual lines from the production were not allowed to be used in any promotional videos. That’s why Oliver, the theatre historian, came up with new ideas for the video. “Usually, the historian makes a trailer to promote our show. The reason I made a whole short film is because of the copyright. So, I made something to show people,” he said.
The video begins with a masked – very appropriate considering the pandemic – boy playing the piano, much like Schroeder, the fictional character in the Charlie Brown stories. Cast members of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown acted out Charlie Brown shorts throughout the six-and-one-half minute video.
In the actual production, Oliver played the lead role of Charlie and Oliver’s sister, Bella Estrada-Brown worked on makeup for the actors.
Lehua, who is heavily involved in the arts herself, said that it was difficult to see her children’s hard work be stopped before finishing.
“It’s definitely a toss-up. As a parent, I want to protect my children and be safe so we’re not contracting or spreading the virus,” she said. “But, both children said that having theatre in their school has been a lifesaver. This is their outlet, their community, not just to pass the time, but they are able to flourish and grow.”
Lehua danced professionally with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and has been a lecturer in the dance departments at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University.
“As an arts educator, I see that the college students are having such a hard time as things are getting shut down,” Lehua said. “The arts are a really important outlet for them.”
Back in March when schools, clubs, and many of the arts were shut down originally, Lehua began working on a response through dance to the pandemic situation. With the help of collaborators, the response became a short film, she said.
“Oliver saw this and thought that this was something he could try,” she said.
Luckily, for those who missed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and for those who want to remember their hard work and preparation, Oliver did try a film, which is when the promotional video was born. The images in this post are screenshots from the video. Find it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kxLeAF_bPjv3e8S2u8CCeDAml25Sg09g/view
Even with pandemic guidelines, the theatre group has been able to continue, although with limitations. In fact, Oliver said that auditions for a spring production should be coming up in February.
Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first-grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for the Daily Herald newspaper, an Arts Leadership Academy graduate, and has earned the Arts Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.