“Sucking your thumb without a blanket is like eating a cone without the ice cream.” This is just one of many lines young audience members will be able to relate to in this lively production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
The show is more of a “day in the life” of Charlie Brown (Andrew Sonntag), than a story.Each vignette gives us a picture of one of the six characters. Sonntag, with his energetic delivery and piercing gaze, hooks us early with typical Charlie Brown optimism during the good moments, so we are truly empathetic during his subsequent moments of despair. Emily Levey is well cast as the know-it-all, “crabby” Lucy. The song “Shroeder,” showcases her strong, clear voice as she attempts to win Shroeder’s love. Unfortunately for Lucy, Shroeder, (Jobari Parker-Namdar), is much more interested in his piano. Parker-Namdar is a gifted singer and, as one child commented, “good at faking piano playing.” A well-known scene where Snoopy (Kurt Boehm) is searching for the Red Baron is loads of fun to watch – even if it’s not entirely clear what’s going on. With strong vocals and some slick dance moves, Boehm delivers a convincing performance as Charlie Brown’s famous dog.
The music is not easy, so the cast deserves praise for their vocals. When they sing together in “You’re a good man Charlie Brown” and in “Happiness,” in particular, the six voices blend beautifully. And the short a capella verse at the end is a real treat.
As for Kate Arnold’s choreography, my favorite part is when, showing solidarity for Linus as he bemoans the day when he’ll be without his blanket, the others dance around with their own blankets. I enjoyed the splash of color and movement against the similarly colorful sets designed by Tim Jones.
A major highlight of this production was the live music. As they entered the theater, kids pointed at the three band members warming up. It’s fun to have the musicians be so close and easy to watch, especially Ben Bokor, who switches so effortlessly from flute to sax to clarinet.
Because the musical is set up as a series of moments, with scenes and characters changing quickly, a program note on the “plot” to help orient kids would’ve been helpful. Even without it, though, anyone will appreciate the universal concerns (feeling like no one likes you, not wanting to give up your blanket, being tongue-tied) and the high energy performance by the cast.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
based on the comic strip by Charles Shulz
music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
directed by Michael Baron
produced by Adventure Theater
reviewed by Miriam Chernick
For Details, Directions and Tickets, click here.