You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, is the musical version of the Peanuts comic strip; a series of vignettes that form a day in the life of Charlie Brown.
Some of us may remember as a child, the Saturday morning ritual distribution of the family newspaper; with the kids section of course being the all important comic pull-out with the weekly installment of Charles Schultz’ comic strip Peanuts.
Those who remember Peanuts will love the nostalgia of seeing old friends onstage in musical form, and those who don’t will still enjoy this whimsical good time musical and its lovable characters.
This particular production is part of the Harvest Rain affiliate program, which offers independent groups of emerging artists the support needed to stage a show.
Tom Oliver plays Charlie Brown, the down on his luck five-year-old. Even though it’s the title role, I think it is probably the hardest and most thankless role of the lot. Charlie Brown doesn’t really instigate a lot of things. Most things happen to him or around him as he seems to get picked on a lot and is not very athletic or good at school work (or picking up that cute little red-head), but despite it all Charlie Brown is still ‘a good man’. Tom was well suited to this role and elicited just the right amount of empathy from the audience for poor old Charlie.
Kristen Barros plays Lucy, the strong willed storm in a tea cup Shroeder stalker, I mean, admirer. Lucy provides much of the dramatic tension for the story and she is both horrible and humourous in her one-mindedness. If anyone could build a Queendom regardless of nobility of birth, it would be Lucy. Kristen was spot on for this role and was able to balance her enthusiastic positivity and irritating ‘crabbiness’ to give a wide dynamic range for this character. This is a character that could have easily been played as one-dimensional ‘crabby’ all the way, yet Kristen charmed the audience as the lovable pint-sized tyrant.
Shaun Kohlman plays Schroeder, the piano prodigy. Shaun was thoughtful and intelligent in his approach to the role.
Patrik Aiken plays the thumb sucking, blanket loving Linus. Perhaps the most quietly spoken of the cast, the character’s lisp did make it hard at times to understand everything he was saying.
Alex Valentine was very well cast as Sally. Cute as a button, she has some of the best moments in the show – the coat hanger report is a great monologue and “My New Philosophy” is such a music theatre gem. Alex pulled off this character with charm and charisma.
Matty Johnston plays Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s faithful canine friend with great vigor. I did stop and marvel a few times at how athletic that role demands, and as an aside, thought it would be interesting to know how many kilos he lost running around in that dog outfit.
Highlights were the group numbers, in particular the chaotic Peter Rabbit Book Report and Beethoven Day, with great harmonies and humourous character action.
The set construction was simple – a dog house on a small platform at the back of the stage and a tree painted on the back wall. That was it, and was all that was needed for the show. A simple show and a simple set does not mean it was unenjoyable or unimaginative, but rather testimony to the talent onstage and Meg Ham’s direction.
You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown is a great family show with a little something in it for both children and adults. Not terribly taxing on the brain cells, but just a good fun night out – highly recommended for taking a quick vacation from life.