Backstage with Keith Miller, aka Charlie BrownBy Laura & Mike Clark • Feb 24th, 2007 • Category: Interviews, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
We continue our shadowing of the Springfield Community Theatre’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by talking with Keith Miller, who is playing the title role of Charlie Brown [MP3 6:57 2MB]. Or read the transcript of the chat.
Mike: Hi this is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio. I am literally backstage with Keith Miller, who plays Charlie Brown in Springfield Community Theatre’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Thanks for talking with me Keith.
Mike: Tell me, is Charlie Brown at all like you? Or is this a total stretch?
Keith: Well, I think there are little pieces of Charlie Brown in everybody. Everybody every once in a while feels a little bit clumsier than they would like to, or a little bit less popular, or whatever than they’d like to be. So I think, if you reach deep inside you, you can find Charlie Brown in you no matter who you are.
Mike: Did you try for Charlie Brown or did you try for some other role?
Keith: I tried for Charlie Brown because I actually played Charlie Brown my first role in college. There’s a sequel to this show called Snoopy!!! (with three exclamation points, that makes it more exciting) and in that show I played Charlie Brown my freshman year in college so I thought it would be really cool to play Charlie Brown in this show. So I came out for it.
Mike: Are you getting typecast as Charlie Brown?
Keith: No, it’s been a long time since my freshman year in college. I’ve had lots of shows in between.
Mike: Did you study theater or was it just a hobby in college?
Keith: I majored in theater, and I also majored in French, because I thought my parents would freak out if I just majored in theater. And French is just so much more practical.
Mike: I’m sure you use that every day right?
Keith: Actually, I do. Now I’m a computational linguist. I graduated from just doing French to doing linguistics in general in grad school. That’s what I do daily.
Mike: So does theater in general help you with that or is it just an aside?
Keith: I think linguistics probably helps me more with theater than theater helps me with linguistics. On a daily basis I find myself doing a lot of presentations and stuff. If I’m not afraid to get up and act like a six year old in a room full of people in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, I’m not afraid to get up in front of executives or whoever and present on a topic that I know I really know well like computational linguistics. I guess a performance background sort of helps me there. Briefings and stuff.
Mike: Have you found it hard to become a six year old for Charlie Brown?
Keith: You can ask my family about that. I think some people might tell you that there’s more six year old in me than there probably should be at my age. It’s fun. They built a set for us with monkey bars and things to play on. Who doesn’t want to play on monkey bars? Who doesn’t want to play on the swings and be able to stick their tongues out at people when they make them mad and things like that. Again, which is like Charlie Brown, I think there’s a six year old inside of everybody too, it’s just that some people hide it. Some people try to bury is a lot more than other people do.
Mike: I’ve definitely noticed everybody getting more comfortable on stage now that there’s actual stuff to play with.
Keith: It really helps. Other than saying, “Imagine there are monkey bars. Picture if you will some monkey bars. What would you do if there were monkey bars here?” It’s kind of hard to suspend yourself in mid air and swing on things that aren’t there.
Mike: Do you have a younger sister or is Sally a new experience?
Keith: Sally is a new experience. I have a younger brother. He’s not that much younger than me. He’s only three years younger than me. We’ve both been grown up for awhile so I don’t have sister as young as Sally. I’ve never had a sister at all or a sister as young as Sally at all.
Mike: Have you and Cody as Sally gotten close. Are you brother-sistery?
Keith: I’m probably old enough to be at least her father if not her, no not her grandfather. I am certainly old enough to be her father, but she’s a great kid. She’s pretty mature for her age and we’re getting along pretty well. I think the cast as a whole is getting along pretty well. We have a real mix of ages in the cast. I think Don talked about that.
It’s been interesting working with the two younger cast members, the two girls. The guys are all older. It’s been good. It’s been kind of nice in a way working with both Lexi and Cody, the two young girls because you can see the thought process as they’re learning the stuff and as their picking the stuff up from the older cast members. They’re both pretty experienced in their own rights, but just sort of the life type of things. You can see things click in their heads every once in a while. That’s really interesting.
Mike: Do you see yourself continuing doing theater on into the future as a hobby or do you want to do it professionally?
Keith: I quit doing theater for about ten years while I was in grad school. I was doing some semi professional/professional stuff at that time. I always promised myself that I would get back into doing theater and I finally did after taking ten years off. I got back into theater two, threeish, fourish years ago. I’ve only been doing community stuff since then. I’ve been thinking lately, “Hey why not try to get into the more professional stuff?” We’ll see what happens next. The opportunities are always surprising when they come up. We’ll see what happens.
Mike: What about the dancing? Has that been hard or has that been pretty straightforward for you?
Keith: It’s been pretty easy in this show. This isn’t really what you’d call a dance show. It isn’t Cats. A lot of actors that do musical theater have taken dance classes or whatever. Then there’s a large subsection of actors who feel like they don’t dance. They’re not dancers. I’m sort of somewhere in between the two.
I took some dance classes in college because I was studying theater and musical theater. When I started to get back into theater again a couple years ago, I started doing a lot of musicals. I actually ended up in a dance company for about two and a half to three years. After one of the musicals I ended up going up and training with a classical east Indian dance company for three years and performing with them. That gave me a lot of dance experience that I didn’t have before. It was like starting to learn ballet. Starting at base level and learning in classical form. That really helped me, not only with dance. It helped me with dance a lot because the rhythms are very intricate in that dance form and the body positions and everything is very exact.
It also helped me with my stage movement in general. I mean, the Charlie Brown stuff they do. This past Summer I played Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf in Into The Woods. It really helped me with the Wolf’s body language and the Wolf’s moves and the preciseness of that. The dancing in this show isn’t really challenging. It’s fun. But it’s not tough to do or anything.
Mike: Ok, well thanks very much for talking with me. I appreciate it.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.