|You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown is a good man, and he gets that goodness
tested an awful lot by the Peanuts gang, his own limitations, and the
whole world that seems to bring him far more failures than victories. But for
more than fifty years George Schultz’s comic strip and the beloved animated
television specials it spawned have made us all commiserate and find comfort in
the anti-hero who keeps on trying to kick that football no matter how many
times Lucy pulls it away.
Peanuts also inspired a couple of stage musicals, the
most famous of which is Clark Gesner’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
And CAPA in Livonia, Michigan recently staged a production of it featuring
additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew
Lippa. It was staged as his senior project by student director Kenny
Sosnowski, his handful of assistants and choreographers, a group of six
actors, plus a creatively used ensemble of three called “The Charlie Brown
Trio.” Together they turn in a charming little production with clever bits of
humor and strong characterizations.
Daniel Greco is Chuck, with a good Charlie Brown
persona that makes you feel for him, offering both a good singing voice and
nice monologues (it’s Charlie Brown, so he’s often all alone on stage). Of
course, Lucy Van Pelt would never say such nice things about him. Brittany
Matthews is the “super crab,” the 5-cent psychiatrist Lucy, doing so with a
good humor, huge and expressive eyes, and an intimidating air. Kyle Ennis
is her little brother Linus who is understandably intimidated by his older
sister, but is greatly comforted by his big blue blanket. For his My Blanket
and Me number, The Charlie Brown Trio personify his blanket aided by great
costumes and choreography (Lauren Inglis). Jesus Murillo is the
piano-playing Schroeder with a great voice, leading them all in a celebration
of the all-too-often-overlooked Beethoven Day. And Kayla Medlen
is a riot as Sally Brown who uses her voice (talking and singing) to great
effect and has a marvelous melodramatic flair seen often, as seen when she
cries and does a duck-and-cover during a pop fly at the baseball game, or when
she yells at her term paper as she starts her big solo My New Philosophy.
And then, of course, there’s Snoopy. Lauren Danaj is a
charming beagle. Well, okay, she’s not so charming to Lucy. She throws a wad of
paper at Lucy’s head when the latter interrupts a game of catch. Lauren has a
great personality and sense of humor whether she’s landing her doghouse after
doing battle with the Red Baron, or contemplating the idiosyncrasies of life,
or pestering Charlie Brown again and again and again about supper, or burying
her face in the bowl as she sings some of the Suppertime lyrics, or in a great
scene as a reluctant hunter of rabbits with Sally in tow.
Which is another scene featuring The Charlie Brown
Trio (Gabby Everson, Katie Migliore, and Madelyn Prebola)
as rabbits that end up scaring Sally and Snoopy. They also become ballet
baseball girls courtesy of Lauren Inglis’s choreography. Which are just
a couple of the great touches thrown in by Director Kenny Sosnowski.
Despite limited rehearsal opportunities, the opening show ran relatively
smoothly, all ending with a soulful reprise of the show’s signature song and
emotion – Happiness.
Performed May 14-15, 2008.
National Youth Theatre
Charlie Brown: Daniel Greco
Lucy Van Pelt: Brittany Matthews
Linus Van Pelt: Kyle Ennis
Sally Brown: Kayla Medlen
Schroeder: Jesus Murillo
Snoopy: Lauren Danaj
The Charlie Brown Trio:
Director: Kenny Sosnowski
Assistant Director: Annie Breen
Choreographer: Lauren Inglis
Assistant Choreographer: Cayla Yuhn
Conductor: Lori Porter