Rising junior Berklea Going hit the ground running when she first arrived as a freshman in IU’s musical theatre program. She was cast immediately as “Rosa Bud”, the ingénue in the Department’s season opener The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In just two short years, Going, a Wells Scholar, has not only appeared on stage, but has also performed an important role behind the scenes as assistant choreographer for a mainstage IU Theatre production. This month we caught up with her in the rehearsal room of IU Summer Theatre’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.
“Choreography has always been an interest of mine. When I was younger, I would sit and watch Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies with my mother and be in awe of the people who put those iconic dances together in such brilliant ways.” Once she got to college, she found herself talking with dance instructor Kenneth L. Roberson about her interest in choreography. Just a few short months later she received an email from Roberson letting her know that he needed an assistant for Sweet Charity. Then in the spring of her sophomore year, choreographer and IU faculty member Liza Gennaro also put her name forward to Cardinal Stage Company and she was given the opportunity to choreograph the children’s show Elephant and Piggie. “I feel extremely lucky that I have had two of my teachers support me and promote me to such a level and that I have been able to choreograph so much while still only in college.”
This summer, Going took on a new challenge as choreographer for IUST’s final production. “I knew You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was going to be a fun process during my first meeting with director Bob Chapel. It was a very relaxed setting with a lot of laughter. He has created a wonderful environment for this show during rehearsals.” Some of her favorite moments have been simply sitting in rehearsal and laughing with Chapel at the show.
With each choreographer working in his or her own way, each process is a little different. For Charlie Brown, Going started by familiarizing herself with the story and the characters. “I have seen the Charlie Brown cartoons, but re-watched several of them, really paying attention to their movements on screen.” She also listened to the music from the show and began tentatively putting together numbers from the show in her head and on paper. “I had a meeting with Bob where I really became familiar with his vision and his ideas for the show. During rehearsals, I taught the numbers to the cast, sometimes using my prepared choreography and sometimes having to come up with it on the spot.” After teaching it to the cast, she continued cleaning up the dance numbers and also changing things “here and there” to help the overall picture of the show.
“My two favorite dance numbers in the show are ‘My Blanket and Me’, as well as ‘Beethoven Day.’ They are quite different, but are just great fun”, says Going with a bright smile. Linus’s signature song, “My Blanket and Me”, was a little tricky for Going because the final props are not available to the actors at the beginning of the rehearsal process. “When first choreographing, I didn’t have the blanket to work with so a lot of it I only saw in my head. It was exciting to see it come to life with the actors and the prop blankets. And ‘Beethoven Day’ has a groove and feel that is unique in the show. It’s a fun dance style that isn’t used anywhere else. I love the idea of Schroeder and his backup chorus as well.”
Now that she is so familiar with the show, Going says the characters are what interest her the most. “Many people have watched the cartoons and know the Peanuts gang so well. The cast is incredible and each actor has worked so hard to convey his or her character. While it sounds cliché, I am a firm believer in escaping to other worlds through art. There is a lot happening in the world right now and a lot of negativity spreading around. I find myself happier when I am leaving the rehearsal room after watching the show.” Agreed. Who wouldn’t want to laugh and explore the world of Charlie Brown and his friends for a few hours and just escape?
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown opens July 29 and runs through August 14 at the Wells-Metz Theatre as the final show of the 2016 IU Summer Theatre Season. For more information, visit theatre.indiana.edu. Tickets available through our website or at the IU Auditorium box office.