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

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Uncommon Theatre Company's spring show 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 by 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, both human and non-human and strung together on the string of a single day, from bright, uncertain morning to hopeful, starlit evening. Director/choreographer Marianne Lonati infuses this show with high energy from start to finish with her multitalented 29 member cast comprised of students from grades 7 thru 12 while music director Michael Templeton not only conducts his 5 piece orchestra but plays the keyboards and taught the glorious music to these talented kids. The bright and colorful costumes by Lisa Surrette add the finishing touches to this fantastic evening of entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together.

Marianne's blocking of each different vignette shines as does her choreography skills. The energetic dancing in the opening number, the kite song, the Beethoven song, the baseball song and in "Suppertime" are splendid and the kids do a dynamite job in them. Michael makes them sound excellent in their songs and his orchestra complements the performers without overpowering them at all. Leading this large cast is high school senior Mathieu Whitman as Charlie Brown who is a multitalented performer. He catches the essence of the character with wonderful facial expressions to display his various emotions of hurt, disappointment, longing and eventual happiness. Mathieu's comic side comes through in the lunch scene with the lunch bag on his head, in the kite scene and his interactions with Snoopy and the other characters in the play. Some of his solo moments in songs include "The Kite", "The Book Report and "The Baseball Song". Mathieu's strong voice sells all these numbers and he is headed to New York University next year to major in drama. Lucy is played by Mary Arruda, another high school senior who will be headed to Rhode Island College in the fall. She is very funny in the "Schroeder" song while he plays The Moonlight Sonata, she sings to him about marriage. Mary also handles the crabbiness survey and the Queen segment with ease and her counting of the words in the Peter Rabbit book report song is very funny, too.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Dana Gaubatz as Snoopy. This blond haired Medfield High School sophomore, appears in his third show (the first non-high school show) dressed in a dog suit and sings, dances and acts up a storm. Dana has many funny one liners and he makes all of them count. His "Snoopy" number when he wants to bite someone and the Red Baron monologue about shooting down his World War 1 triplane are a hoot as is the rabbit hunt scene with 7 year old, Danielle Lonati as a rollerskating Woodstock. Dana's "Suppertime" is topnotch, too and he is backed by the chorus in the exuberant dance section. Another scene stealer is Franklin high school junior, Jessica Cain as Sally. She sounds just like Kristen Chenoweth and her "My New Philosophy" number stops the show with her fabulous voice. Jessica also shows off her voice in the "Home on the Range" number when she finds out that Linus called her an enigma and delivers her many funny lines beautifully, too.

16 year old junior Justin Morin plays Schroeder who gets to sing solo not only in Home on the Range but in the newly created 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 thrown into the song and sung by a dynamite chorus. Julien Touafek, a 15 year old, plays Linus. His blanket song is excellent where he dances with four girls as is the scenes where he sucks his thumb and when his pratfall when Lucy punches him in the stomach. 16 year old Matt Timmons gets to show off his terrific singing voice as Shermy in two songs in the show. The first is in the quartet segment of the "Book Report" where he spouts off philosophical lines as Mike Norton, an eighth grader, sings with an excellent voice, too, about Peter Rabbit being similar to Robin in that song. The second is "Little Known Facts" with high school senior, Allicia Lawson as Frieda. Allicia's dynamic voice sells the song as she teaches Shemy that snow comes up and hitting your head on the bark of a tree makes it grow faster. The addition of the chorus to the kite song and the book report song strengthens the show and gives these talented kids a chance to show off their talent. So for a fantastic rendition of beloved characters from The Peanuts comic strip be sure to catch "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in Foxboro. You won't be disappointed.

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" (31 March - 2 April)
UNCOMMON THEATRE COMPANY
The Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508) 698-3098

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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