By Laura Quezada News Review Staff Writer–
The Ridgecrest Musical Enrichment Society (RMES) brings “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” to Parker Performing Arts Center (PAC) Fridays through Sundays, April 15-16 and April 21-23. Friday and Saturday night start at 6:30 PM, and Sunday matinees start at 1:00 PM. General admission is $12, seniors, students, and military are $10, and children and RMES members are $8.00. Tickets are available online at RMESonline.com and at Red Rock Books.
What a breath of fresh air to have young adults stepping up to the plate to continue a family legacy of bringing musical theater to Ridgecrest in order to benefit local schools. RMES has donated $159,000 to Sierra Sands School District since its foundation in 2009. The pandemic halted the momentum of RMES presenting theatrical productions. The 2019 earthquakes closed PAC, the traditional home of RMES. Now they are together again with the 18th show of RMES (not counting numerous variety shows).
Everybody in the cast is doing more than performing. Charlie Brown is Set Designer Jason Ertl; Lucy is Assistant Musical Director Britney Brown; Linus is Prop Master Daniel Cosner; Snoopy is Costume Mistress Holly Cosner; Sally Brown is Co-Director Amy Ertl Cosner; and Schroeder is Co-Director/Producer Larry Cosner IV. All of this crew graduated from Burroughs High School (BHS), with the exception of Holly, who is still attending BHS.
“The interesting thing about this show was we hesitated even calling it an RMES show at first because this was just a group of six people that wanted to put on a show, and RMES agreed to sponsor,” says Larry. “We wanted to put on a show with the purpose of gaining some experience with directing, producing, costumes, and getting all this experience of show creation. We didn’t hold auditions or anything. We just said, ‘Hey, let’s put on a show.’” Baby boomers will probably think of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies when they hear that quote.
To sum up the plot, it is Charlie Brown’s journey to happiness and the affirming value of friendship. Jason tells us, “The interesting thing about this show is it’s very indicative of the old comics; it doesn’t have so much of an overarching plot. It has a bunch of little strips and vignettes and fun little things that are similar to the way they did the Charles Schulz comics. I would say that there’s a little bit of a character arc for Charlie Brown because he starts the show sitting alone at lunch and, eventually, finally gets the courage to talk to that little red-haired girl that he’s been admiring for so long.”
Amy adds, “It is a silly show. There’s lots of comedy in a typical Schultz fashion. We think it’s just really fun. It’s a great fit for families. We want to make sure that we have plenty of kids there because we think that they’ll really enjoy it.”
“One of the great things about RMES is that everyone is trying to just put on a good show,” says Larry. Everybody wants to be seen, but not at the expense of the show. No big egos trying to take over. Amy adds, “One of the things I love about RMES is it is like one big family with whoever is involved – even before I married into the family. I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice. It feels really like a family, very friendly and cozier.’”
It is touching to learn that all of these cast members met in an RMES show in 2014 when they were cast in “Once Upon a Dream.” They became good friends. Larry and Amy didn’t start their romance during that time. In their next show, their characters got married. Larry and Amy were married (in real life) in 2019.
Jason played an orphan in “Once Upon a Dream” when he was in 6th grade. He had a lead in “Aristocrats” when he was in 7th grade. Larry was in middle school when he had a line in a song in “Carpe Diem,” and his first lead role was as Benjamin in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Amy didn’t move to Ridgecrest until she was a sophomore. The idea for having this generation produce Charlie Brown came from Amy’s dance teacher mother, Julie Ertl, who passed in 2019. Amy says, “It’s a sweet thing to finally be able to say, ‘We’re doing it, Mom. We’re doing your show.’”
Amy expresses heartfelt gratitude, “ I want to say thanks to RMES for providing this opportunity for us but also for helping us make a good show. Ultimately the goal of this is to give us all an opportunity to learn how to do this, and we’re so grateful for all the people who have helped us through this because there are so many things that you didn’t know you had to think. We’re so grateful to the RMES board members and other people who have been willing to really just hold our hands as we try to figure out what the heck is going on.”
This group of young adults hopes to continue the legacy of RMES, raising funds and putting on great shows. They really want you to buy a ticket and support their efforts. Amy theatrically states with a quiver in her voice, “It’s for the children.” Everyone laughs, and Larry quips, “We’re not above using guilt to get people to buy a ticket.”