April 12, 2023 by Brigid O'Leary
FREDERICKSBURG, VA—A family-friendly show if there is one, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” – like any Peanuts entertainment – isn’t complete without the Van Pelt family, namely siblings Linus and Lucy. For the adaptation being performed by STEP VA, the local 501(c)3 nonprofit that “empowers people with disabilities, and their families, through creative expression and sensory exploration,” those roles are being played by Evan Bach and Sarah Montgomery.
Bach, like many others in the cast, chose to audition because he’s a fan of the Peanuts universe Charles Schulz created.
“I love Charlie Brown specials and wanted a chance to play one of the characters,” he said.
On his first foray with the STEP VA spring musical, specifically, he landed an important and memorable role, that of Linus Van Pelt, Charlie Brown’s philosophical pal with the blue security blanket. It came as a surprise to him, as he just wanted to be part of the cast, and wasn’t expecting to be a main character, but he’s grateful for the opportunity, he says.
In a show about friendship, it’s exactly that which Bach has enjoyed the most about the experience so far. When asked what the best part of the being in cast is for him, he said, “I get to share scenes with my friends.”
Though he plays Linus, Lucy Van Pelt’s little brother, he also gets to share scenes with his real-life sister, Kaitlyn, who plays Charlie Brown’s little sister, Sally. While Kaitlyn is older than Evan, she’s nothing like the character of Lucy, who can be seen as bossy and annoying.
“I like having my sister helping me,” he said, adding that Kaitlyn doesn’t annoy him very much.
Sharing the stage with his friends—and his family—has been fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work.
“Learning to memorize my lines and all the dances,” has been challenging, he noted, though he’s looking forward to the show, where he has his own song, “My Blanket and Me.” Bach said he’s also excited “to show my mom and dad all the hard work I did.”
“I have really enjoyed being a part of STEP VA and getting this chance to act in a play alongside all my friends,” he said.
Alongside Bach as his on-stage sister, Lucy Van Pelt, is Sarah Montgomery, one of the newer members of STEP VA.
“Having never been in a musical, I thought it would be fun to try out, especially with my friends,” she explained.
That she received such a prominent role—arguably the biggest female role in the show—is not terribly surprising for anyone who heard her sing at the Open Mic in October, the same event at which “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” was announced as the spring musical.
“The singing and definitely the dancing,” have been the best part of rehearsals for Montgomery, but she admits that “memorizing all my lines” has been challenging.
The role of Lucy gives Montgomery a chance to play against type. Though an older sister herself, she’s not as bossy as Lucy is to Linus and her cast mates don’t find her mean by any stretch of the imagination. Being Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” lets her pretend to be someone she is not—and she’s having fun with it.
“Where I yell at Charlie Brown for being a blockhead” is her favorite scene, she said.
After months of hard work, the show is in just a few days and not only is Montgomery ready, performing is what she’s looking forward to the most.
“The excitment the day of the show in our costumes making it all come alive!” she said.
Don’t be a blockhead; come see STEP VA’s presentation of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” April 15 at 6 p.m. and April 16 at 3 p.m., at Courtland High School. The show is sponsored by Dominion Energy and the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. Tickets are on sale now. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.stepva.org.