It’s been a summer to sing and dance for more than a show.
Teens from the Voices of Hope theater group will present the first of four performances of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” tonight.
The musical, a fundraiser for cancer research, runs through the weekend in Lawrence at the youth group’s studio, The Nest, at The Everett Mill.
Back at the first rehearsal, around Memorial Day, director Jon DiPrima gave the 21 cast members a homework assignment. Get to know well the characters in the Peanuts gang. Connect to their foibles and virtues.
Many of the youths — they range in age from 10 to 15 years old — have subsequently gone home and done additional work.
That includes talking to their families about their troupe’s mission promoting target therapies for cancer patients.
“I am thankful beyond words that they want to further the mission,” said DiPrima, of North Andover.
For two months now, the cast, including kids from Andover, Haverhill, Groveland and Middleton, has been rehearsing three days a week.
They’ve gotten to know Lucy, Linus, Sally, Schroeder and Snoopy from Charles Schulz’s classic comic strip. Likely, Charlie Brown, America’s lovable loser, needed little introduction.
The musical, its host of recognizable “types” and its uplifting story appeals to a wide audience, to people from all walks of life and every age, DiPrima said.
And Charlie Brown’s willingness to endure regardless of past setbacks reflects long-standing efforts and hard-won progress against cancer.
Since 2009, Voices of Hope has donated nearly $700,000 to cancer research, earmarking over a half-million dollars to the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.
Many performers in Voices of Hope, which has some 200 members, have seen their lives changed by cancer.
A few actors in the Charlie Brown production have themselves lost family members to cancer and shared their stories with the cast.
The goal remains to celebrate, remember, honor and rejoice through music and hopeful voices.
IF YOU GO
What: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a Voices of Hope teen production
When: Today, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m.
Where: The Nest studio, fifth floor, The Everett Mill, 15 Union St., Lawrence
How much: $20
More information: www.voicesofhopeboston.org/upcoming-events/
Andover: Leah Alexander, Maya Alexander, Grace Lilley and Kit Neuman
Billerica: Giuliana Dearth and Sofia Dearth
Chelmsford: Elisabeth Earley and Maddy Meehan
Dracut: Tyesin Jasmin and Zoey Jasmin
Groveland: Jillian Gavin
Haverhill: Aidan Collins, Elyse Goncalves and Max Popoloski
Middleton: Matt Jedrey
Portsmouth, N.H.: Oliver Morgenstern
Reading: Violet Cerretani and Jack Healey
Tewksbury: Darren Castiglione, Jacquelyn Guy and Kayleigh Nagle