Theatre Mirror Reviews - "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"

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entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Stage Door Kids' current production is the 1999 Broadway revival version of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" which is based on Charles Shultz's beloved "Peanuts" comic strip. The revival opened on February 5, 1999 and made a star of Kristen Chenoweth, winning her the Tony Award for best featured actress for playing the role of Sally Brown. The show takes us through an average day in the life of Charlie Brown. The audience catches glimpses of their favorite characters and includes many moments picked from all the days of his life from Valentine's Day to baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair. They include all of his friends and his dog, Snoopy, the events are strung together on the string of a single day, from bright, uncertain morning to hopeful, starlit evening. Director Gary Poholek brings out the best his six young cast members and infuses the show with the high energy and acting talent it needs. It's bright and colorful costumes by Gary's wife, Ellen and colorful set by Gary, light up the stage to enhance the enjoyment of a show that the whole family can enjoy together.

Gary is added in this task by Jonathan Yang, 16 year old junior at Mansfield High School, who not only is the musical director but plays the keyboards and conducts his small combo of Colin Jaros also a 16 year old junior at Mansfield High, on percussion and Kevin Lingard, a 15 year old sophomore at Providence Country Day school, on clarinet. The choral director/ choreographer for this show is Lauren Maggio, a senior at Oliver Ames High School in Easton. She not only taught the glorious, rousing music but created the energetic dancing in the opening number, "My Blanket & Me", the Beethoven song, "Rabbit Chasing vignettes, the baseball song and "Suppertime''. Lauren's brother Nicky who is a sophomore at Oliver Ames, is the stage manager and also runs the lights for the show, too.

Leading this talented cast is Cameron Connaughton as Charlie Brown. He is a sixth grade student from Cumberland, RI. He shows off his acting talent in the long lunch time monologue where he puts his lunch bag on his head as well as in his other vignettes with the other characters. Cameron's solos include the Kite song, his section of the Book Report, "The Baseball Song" and his solo lines in "Happiness". One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Livvy Marcus as Lucy. She is a 7th Grade student who I saw play Annie in 2003. She is a multitalented performer with excellent facial expressions and line delivery and has a great belting voice. She is hilarious in the "Schroeder" song while he plays The Moonlight Sonata she sings to him about marrying her as well as in the "Book Report'' segment where she counts the number of words in her report and in "Little Known Facts" where she teaches Linus many incorrect things including that snow come up and not down and that by hitting your head on the bark of a tree makes it grow faster. Livvy's other funny scenes are the I want to be Queen segment and the crabiness survey scene. Another scene stealer is 13 year old Mount St. Charles student, Adam Landry who plays Snoopy. He is a hoot throughout the whole show. Adam sings, acts and dances up a storm. He has many funny one liners and he makes all of them count. Adam's funny moments and songs include the "Snoopy" song where he wants to bite someone, the Red Baron monologue about being shot down in his World War 1 triplane, the rabbit chasing scene with bits from Mission Impossible and his jazzy rendition of "Suppertime" which stops the show.

10 year old Mickey White plays the thumb sucking, Linus who spouts out many philosophical lines throughout the show. He is very funny when he does a dance with his blanket in "My Blanket and Me" and his argument scene with Lucy during "Home on the Range" is also funny when he storms offstage after Patty steals the pencil from him. Mickey's pratfall after Lucy punches him is wonderfully done as are his reactions and antics throughout the whole show. 12 year old Brendan Lynch plays Schroeder. He uses his strong singing voice in the "Book Report" where he sings Peter Rabbit is like Robin Hood and in a new song for the revival called "Beethoven's Day" where he wants the principal to declare a new holiday. It is a rock number mixed with some of Beethoven's musical sections incorporated into the song. Brendan also conducts Home on the Range where Linus, Lucy and Sally argue with each other during it. His facial expressions when Lucy keeps trying to seduce are priceless and hilarious to witness. Last but not least is Addy Marcus who is a ten year old fifth grader. She is a spitfire performer who sells her many one liners perfectly and she stops the show with her strong voice in "My New Philosophy" which was written for the revival and in which Sally keeps changing her philosophy every time she hears a new phrase she likes. Addy also gets to do the Rabbit Chase with Adam and in Home on the Range she sings most of the song until she storms off stage after hearing Linus called her an enigma. So for a splendid rendition of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", be sure to catch the talented Stage Door Kids version. Tell them Tony sent you.

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" (26 July - 5 August)
Mockingbird Music Studio, 905 South Main Street, MANSFIELD MA
1 (508) 339-6755

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide