Happiness is Imagination Stage’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown: a musical that’s adorned with the silly antics and sticky-sweet nature of childhood.
Director Aaron Posner hones in on the bouncy energy of being a kid, blocking the show so that the “Peanuts” perform scenes while climbing up a set piece, running around the stage, or sliding down a slide. Extra childlike playfulness also comes through when the characters use their vocals as pretend brass instruments in conjunction with the piano accompaniment during a specific number. Posner knows how to add youthful charm without taking away from the script’s smart quips on life.
This production is a slightly shortened version of the 2016 off-Broadway revival that neatly packs the usual two acts into one. Pacing could have easily gone awry from this change, but Posner’s found a way to quickly transition through the scenes without destroying essential comedic timing. Even with a few songs and scenes taken out, this production feels complete.
Moving from one slice-of-life vignette to another, the musical showcases a typical day for the “Peanuts” gang (portrayed by adult actors). Charlie Brown (Christopher Michael Richardson) obsesses over the little red-haired girl, Linus (Harrison Smith) gives his intellectual takes on everything while clinging to his beloved blanket, Snoopy (Joe Mallon) begs for his supper, Lucy (Awa Sal Secka) puts on the ol’ psychiatrist hat, Schroeder (Michael J. Mainwaring) plays his piano, and Sally (Erin Weaver) fumes over a grade. The show essentially flips through iconic bits from Charles Schulz’s comic strips, with a cleverly added Marcy (Music Director Deborah Jacobson) in the mix.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
closes August 12, 2018
Details and tickets
While all of the cast members energetically bring the characters to life, Awa Sal Secka’s version of Lucy is especially memorable. Her voice is naturally operatic, golden and rich like honey, and she smartly emphasizes this trait for her rendition of “Schroeder,” (which has often been performed as nasally and obnoxiously as possible for laughs). Her version of the song gives off the image of a five-year-old playing prima donna; it’s hysterical.
You’re a Good Man is a jovial production that can connect with both parents and children. And with opportunities for young audiences to interact with the “Peanuts,” this production serves as an excellent way for children to take part in a fun, theatrical experience.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown based on the Comic Strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Clark M. Gesner. Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer. Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Directed by Aaron Posner. Featuring: Deborah Jacobson, Michael Mainwaring, Joe Mallon, Christopher Michael Richardson, Awa Sal Secka, Harrison Smith, and Erin Weaver. Assistant director: Danielle Gallo. Music director: Deborah Jacobson. Choreographer: Tony Thomas. Scenic designer: Nate Sinnott. Costume designer: Kelsey Hunt. Lighting designer: Max Doolittle. Sound designer: Patrick Calhoun. Stage manager: Trevor A. Riley. Presented by Imagination Stage. Reviewed by Emily Priborkin.