Annandale High School You’re a Good Man Charlie BrownBy Cappies • Apr 18th, 2013 • Category: Cappies
In a flood of color and energy, eleven school kids hopped, skipped, and jump-roped their way onto the stage, ready to begin a new day of first-grade joys and dramas. So began Annandale High School’s heartwarming production, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.
In 1966, Clark Gesner recorded a concept album based on Charles Schulz’s adored Peanuts comic strip. When producer Arthur Whitelaw heard the album, he urged Gesner to form a musical out of the songs. The show was performed off-Broadway from 1967 to 1971, and in 1971 it opened on Broadway. After four months it closed, but it was revived in 1998, starring Kristen Chenoweth as Sally Brown. While less than successful on the Broadway stage, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown has become one of the most cherished amateur productions in the theatre world. A simple vignette show, it features several scenes from the original “Peanuts,” each of which captures the delights and dilemmas of six-year-olds.
Annandale’s representation of the Peanuts characters engaged the audience with near flawlessness. Each performer displayed unique characteristics and strong vocals, knitting together a captivating world of humor, wit, and delight.
Andy Riddle embodied the thoughtful, often melancholy Charlie Brown with stellar vocals and mannerisms, from his facial expressions to his honestly-executed reactions. The audience enthusiastically applauded him, admiring the fact that Riddle, an understudy, grabbed the part by the horns with firm skill. Gwen Levey’s portrayal of the obnoxious yet adorable Lucy Van Pelt also contributed to the show’s success. Her body language and tone of voice emanated the familiarly bossy character with a unique spin. Deanna Gowland as Snoopy performed with particular skill and ease. Her suave vocals and dancing in “Suppertime” shone, drawing cheers from the audience.
The small cast of Annandale’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown paid attention to every detail in order to portray the individuality of each character. Harris Fitzgeral demonstrated Linus Van Pelt’s signature, thumb-sucking shuffle with complete naturalness. Mark Slough, as Schroeder, delivered each line about famous composers with consistent passion. And Melissa Haberle laughed and pouted with amusing energy. While some characters exaggerated a bit unnaturally at times, their constant zest remained contagious. The cast as a whole created a vocal blend that was especially pleasing to hear, and they successfully tackled each difficult harmony. Choreography was simple yet creative, and while not always unified, characters performed the steps with vigor.
The Charlie Brown Orchestra for Annandale’s production well-supported the cast without overpowering it, and all musicians avoided noticeable mistakes. Simple effects, such as flying kites, added to the believability of the show. While microphones sounded a bit shrill or fizzled out a few times, the performers’ clarity and zeal carried them through.
From start to finish, Annandale’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown uplifted the audience by skillfully portraying Charles Shultz’s classic “Peanuts,” all while conveying with touching honesty the simple humor and joy of childhood.
by Sophie Buono of Oakcrest School
Photos by Georgi Barker of Briar Creek Photography
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