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Olney Theatre Center You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

By • Feb 28th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown
Olney Theatre Center
Olney Mainstage, Olney, MD
Through March 18th
2:00 with one intermission
$26-$49
Reviewed February 25th, 2012

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a musical with Book, Music & Lyrics by Clark Gesner, based on the comic book by Charles M. Schulz. It’s the Peanuts gang sharing a slice of life from the perspective of children with very adult-like observations. Olney’s You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown was wonderful. Bright colors, funny songs, and expressive actors combined to create an entertaining evening.

All six actors reached into themselves and found the kid stuck inside. Sally Brown played by Jaimie Kelton had a strong no-nonsense character. Her song “My New Philosophy” pretty much nailed Sally’s outlook on life. She was animated and believable. She also registered high on the cuteness scale, especially when she was following her “sweet babboo” around.

The most vibrant character was Snoopy, the lovable beagle who tolerated the Brown family and the big round-headed kid, was played by James Gardiner. He had some exceptional dance moves. The audience also seemed to feed off of his energy as he danced to “Suppertime” and stared Sally down at one point when she attempted to say that the dog was the lowest form of life. Then there was Lucy Van Pelt, played by Janine Sunday. Queen Lucy as she preferred, was crabby, but seemed willing to change. At least for a song or two. I think deep down she was a nice person, but she was forceful and felt free to give her opinion.

Lucy’s brother Linus, the philosophical youth with the security blanket, was played by Paul Wyatt. His toe-tapping number “My Blanket and Me” was fun and well-performed. Wyatt also had a few “ahhh” moments of his own as he dealt with his big sister. No group would be complete without a musician and Vishal Vaidya as Schroeder played the quintessential struggling artist. His moodiness was balanced well by his passion to create music like his mentor Beethoven. Vaidya successfully shared Schroeder’s passion and flair for the dramatic as only a musician can. Finally the last of the “children” and the most lovable misunderstood blockhead of them all is kindly Charlie Brown played by Zack Colonna. Colonna played his character with a child-like innocence that you wanted to just hug him and not call him names like the rest of his friends seemed to take great pride in doing.

Each cast member had wonderful interactions with the others, whether it was during a baseball game or in choir rehearsal (even though the humorous spoken lines were lost as the choir sang “Home on the Range”). Scene changes occurred quickly. There were many embellishments and surprises throughout the production. So even if you’ve seen You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in the past, this will be a new experience.

Costume Designer Seth Gilbert used the “traditional” Peanuts colors for the kids (although the red shirt Charlie Brown wore in the second act was a little jarring at first. Scenic Designer Robert Andrew Kovach created a believable set using color and pieces that moved on, up, and off stage easily. They were quite reminiscent of Charles Schulz’s artistic style. For example, the oversized Van Pelt sofa and television remote were just right for their scene, while Snoopy’s doghouse/bowling alley/biplane/tree was perfect for Snoopy’s antics.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a fun light-hearted production well done and entertaining for kids as well as kids at heart!

Director’s Notes

Good Grief, Charlie Brown! The peanuts gang: The blockhead who may never pitch a winning baseball game, the fuss-budget ever-ready to give an opinion and rule the world, the intellectual who solves the question of the day with reason while clutching his security blanket, the musical prodigy and artistic elitist, the slacker in love with her “sweet babboo” and the new philosophies, and the Beagle with endless wealth of wit and fantasy life. In the last sixty years, these beloved iconic characters have become an indelible part of international pop-culture and daily life.

In 1950, cartoonist Charles M. Schultz first brought Charlie Brown and his friends to life – and it was ground breaking. These kids had the anxieties an opinions of little adults and the wonder of a “pre-South Park” innocence we all hope to hold on to as we grow. They remind us that growing up and surviving daily life is never easy – it is challenging and treacherous but sometimes joyous and full of wonder.

The Peanuts gang became quickly became a part of our lives – their images became international symbols, and even the mascots of NASA’s mission to the moon. In the early 1960s The Peanuts gang came into our homes again via several very successful animated television specials – still televised to this day. In 1967, Mark Gesner brought the gang alive on stage at Theatre 80 St. Marks in New York in the tiny off-Broadway hit You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. (which featured soon to be stars Gary Berghoff and Bob Balaban). The musical took Broadway, the West End and the world by storm and has thrived in many tours, regional productions, and television specials (both live and animated). This show, and its wonderful skits and songs became a staple in schools, community theaters and productions of all levels. In 1999 as Peanuts neared its 50th anniversary, director Michael Mayer and composer Andrew Lippa revived the show on Broadway. They took a new look at this revue and updated it with Comic Strips and characters that had come along since the show first opened. They added new songs, new scenes, and a jazzy orchestration reminiscent of the Vince Guaraldi scores of the TV specials and movies. The show had a new life on Broadway, and earned Tonys for Roger Bart (as Snoopy) and Kristen Chenoweth (as Sally), making them both Broadway stars.

The world and its technology may have changed since Charlie Brown came on the scene, but these characters are still very much around us: in comic books, video games, and yes, even an iphone app or two. I am very excited to bring the Peanuts Gang into the 21st Century and celebrate them with old and new generations of fans. Enjoy the show!

-Stephen Nanchamie, Director/Choreographer

Photo Gallery

Lucy (Janine Sunday) professes her love for Schroeder (Vishal Vaidya) Sally (Jaimie Kelton) strikes back at her teacher over the 'C' she received on her project
Lucy (Janine Sunday) professes her love for Schroeder (Vishal Vaidya)
Sally (Jaimie Kelton) strikes back at her teacher over the ‘C’ she received on her project
The doctor's in! Lucy (Janine Sunday) helps Charlie Brown (Zack Colonna) work through some of his 'issues' Homework and Rabbit Chasing? All a part of a normal day for the Peanuts gang
The doctor’s in! Lucy (Janine Sunday) helps Charlie Brown (Zack Colonna) work through some of his ‘issues’
Homework and Rabbit Chasing? All a part of a normal day for the Peanuts gang
The Peanuts gang is all here and ready to play a little baseball Snoopy (James Gardiner) sings about the joys of 'Suppertime'
The Peanuts gang is all here and ready to play a little baseball
Snoopy (James Gardiner) sings about the joys of ‘Suppertime’

Photos by Stan Barouh

Cast

  • Sally Brown: Jaimie Kelton
  • Lucy Van Pelt: Janine Sunday
  • Snoopy: James Gardiner
  • Schroeder: Vishal Vaidya
  • Charlie Brown: Zack Colonna
  • Linus Van Pelt: Paul Wyatt
  • Dance Captain: Jaimi Kelton
  • Female Swing: Maria Rizzo
  • Male swing: Patrick J. Prebula

Crew

  • Scenic Designer: Robert Andrew Kovach
  • Costume Designer: Seth Gilbert
  • Lighting Designer: Andrew F. Griffin
  • Stage Manager: Josianne M. Lemieux
  • Sound Designer: Jeffrey Dorfman
  • Production Manager: Renee E. Yancey
  • Technical Director: Eric Knauss
  • Company Manager: MacKenzie Douglas
  • Costume Shop Manager: Jeanne Bland
  • Musical Director: Christopher Youstra
  • Director/choreographer: Stephen Nachamie
  • Jim Petrosa: Artistic Director
  • Clay Hopper: Associate Artistic Director

Orchestra

  • Conductor, Piano: Christopher Youstra
  • Violin, Viola: Patricia Wnek
  • Woodwinds: Patrick Plunk
  • Acoustic and Electric Bass: Frank Higgins
  • Percussion: Alex Aucoin

Disclaimer: Olney Theatre Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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