Review by Danny Gaisin
I am and always was; a fan of Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’. Couldn’t help myself, I was the epitome of the lead character. Couldn’t roller-skate, kite flying was a disaster and being short & a southpaw, my gloveless baseball skills were always the last ‘chosen up’. My ‘Red haired girl’ was named Nancy, and my “Cheba” always seemed as bemused by me as old Charlie was by ‘Snoopy’. Photo by CyllaVon Tiedemann
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a delightful musical pastiche of some of the more memorable episodes from the long-running cartoon… the ‘Red Baron’; Linus’ blanket; Schroeder’s piano with LVB’s bust; and naturally, Lucy & her psychology booth (5₵). Director Donna Feore has attempted to capture the ambiance of the writer’s attitude that kids are intrinsically decent but will instinctively do things that may backfire socially. Feore knows we’ve all Been There and thus allows us to not only reminisce but to commiserate! Her cast selection is immaculate. Each one of the six on stage performers and the three wings-voices/understudies mirror the triple-threat training their scholastic backgrounds have instilled. They certainly can act; we see that in each role’s interpretation; their vocalizing of the musical numbers is faultless; and their choreographic skills epitomize the demands for which the director is well-known.
The title character is reticently & understatedly portrayed by Ken James Stewart. His what’s-wrong-with-you litany by sister Sally (Amy Wallis) made me glad I was an only child; and Erica Peck’s “Lucy” talking of marriage while lounging on Andrew Broderick’s grand piano is hilarious. The show stopper bit is performed by Stephen Patterson (Snoopy) and is titled’ DINNERTIME’. Feore presents it as a Busby Berkeley extravaganza with only the waterfall & myriad chorus girls missing.
My kids had their ‘madeet’; friend’s offspring carried a ‘blankee’; Linus schleps his own soothing ‘schmata’ & it’s highlighted in a creative number about such a prized personal possession. In this scene, Kevin Yee is backed by the other five, fully costumed as dancing blankets in a most creatively constructed number. Set & stage props are mimimalist in keeping with Feore’s intention to keep the cartoon imagery. Her utilization of backdrop and cartoon-style projections are more than just effective contrivances; they’re artwork!
Obviously, YAGMCB, is fluff; but it’s fun fluff and it’s inventive fluff and if one doesn’t mind the occasional crying & whining until the parents tire of the shushing &finally remove the tykes, even us (supposed) adults will enjoy this longish [for 6 & under] 100 minute performance.
One final definitely adult observation…every time I see something even obliquely about the Peanuts Gang; can’t help visualizing the infamous single-box cartoon showing an obviously preggers Lucy, captioned “God Damn you, Charlie Brown!”