Workshop Players lost a good man

They say the show must go on, and go on it certainly will.

Workshop Players Theatre’s opening show of its 70th season is “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Workshop is celebrating a full six decades of entertaining our audiences by rebooting a show from each 10-year period.

Charlie’s story has actually been produced twice already, first in the 80s and again in the 90s. This time around it’s the “revised” edition with Sally substituting for Peppermint Patty. Sally’s song, a rant called “Why Are You Telling Me?” is a sure audience pleaser.

Everything got off to a wonderful start with an elite cast of Alicia Fogal, Kevin Cline, Matt Tomecko, Brett Heidinger, Holly Scott, and Jarred Nichols. Nichols was also the director and his father, Jim, was the scenic designer and stage manager. The two of them, with their vast theatrical experience, had plans to transform our unique space into Charlie Brown’s playground.

Then tragedy struck. Quite unexpectedly, Jim passed away.

Understandably shaken, Jarred could not continue. The production lost its director, its Linus, its Sally, its lighting designer, scenic designer, and stage manager. We also needed a new accompanist.

Sound impossible? Nope. That’s what’s special about theater people. Everyone pulled together.

The first emergency phone call went out to the talented Kristina Rivera, whose creative genius has shown in many productions with both her onstage presence and her steady director’s hand. One of the members of the board of trustees, Shelbey Linder, stepped into the role of Sally. Another talented actor agreed to reprise his role as Linus. Scores of people got together to redesign the scenic elements and our talented lighting designer, Dave MacKeigan, got to work on a show that he was to have had off.

Finding a new accompanist was the biggest challenge as those who are fleet of fingers are usually booked far, far in advance. Luck stepped in though in the form of Dave Coxe. He had offered to loan us the Schroeder piano and when called to accept that offer, he asked what had happened. Unavailable for what was to have been our opening weekend, he stated that if the show was moved back a week he would play for us.

An emergency board meeting followed and the deed was done! That presented a new problem as the actor who had taken over as Linus was to be out of town during the new last weekend. Back to the proverbial drawing board we went and voila! Matt Cuffari appeared and is now our Linus, despite having just begun a new job in Cleveland.

“I really wasn’t planning on doing a show now because of this new job, but after I heard everything you guys went through, I knew I had to help out.” Yup, that’s theater people for you! After all, the show must go on!

So, that’s the complicated backstory for Workshop Player Theatre’s opening offering of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” That’s a story that will not be apparent once the show opens and the joy of performance begins.

Here’s the deal — back from the 80s, Workshop Players serves up something for the whole family as America’s favorite gang gets together again. Charlie Brown, Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and Sally bring pangs of nostalgia into audience members’ hearts. This delightful collection of vignettes with these characters, who have been woven into the fabric of our lives, features smiles, inviting songs and familiar messages. “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” under the direction of Kristina Rivera, will enchant and amuse all lucky enough to be in attendance.

We hope you will be among them, especially now that you know the rest of the story!

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” opens Thursday, Sept. 14 and runs for three weekends, including matinees on Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 with evening shows at a new starting time of 7:30 p.m. and matinees still at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, with a $10 admission for children up through age 15. Group rates are available.

Call 440-988-5613 for tickets.

Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to

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