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

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone



"YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


Walpole Footlighters third show of their 92nd season is "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", a musical about Charles Schulz's beloved comic strip, Peanuts. This version is the 1999 revival which opened on February 5 and made a star out of Kristen Chenoweth, winning her the Tony Award as best featured actress for playing the role of Sally Brown. The musical takes us through an average day in the life of Charlie Brown. The audience catches a glimpse 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 his friends and his dog, Snoopy, the events are strung together on a string of a single day, from a bright uncertain morning to a hopeful, starlit evening. Director Stephen Lee brings out the best in his cast and infuses the show with the high energy it needs. The bright and colorful costumes are by Kate Smith and the colorful set by Dan Sheehan and Stephen, light up the stage to enhance the enjoyment of a show the whole family can enjoy together.

Not only does Stephen Lee direct the show but choreographs it, too. He created the energetic dancing for "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", "My Blanket and Me", the Beethoven song, the rabbit chasing of Snoopy, "The Baseball Song" and "Suppertime." The closing number tugs at your heartstrings with the relationship of the cast and their excellent harmonies in it. Danielle Clougher who is not only the musical director but plays lead keyboards while conducting her small combo. She also taught the cast the glorious rousing music. Leading this talented cast as Charlie Brown is Ken Golner. He displays his acting chops in this huge role. One of his funniest scenes is the opening lunch time sequence when he puts a bag on his head when the little red head girl sees him. Other humorous moments include Valentine's day and the Baseball segment. Ken's solos include "The Kite" where it gets tangled up in a tree, "The Book Report" where he keeps procrastinating on writing it, "The Baseball Game" where he once again becomes distracted by the little red head girl and the finale a tender and sentimental rendition of "Happiness.'' One of most comic performers in the show is Heather Vieira as Lucy. She is topnotch as this aggressive character with her facial expressions and comic line delivery. Heather also has a strong belting voice which she uses in "Schroeder" as she tries to get him to marry her as he plays the Moonlight Sonata. Her other songs include "The Doctor is In" where she analysis Charlie Brown, "The Book Report" segment where she counts the number of words in her report as well as "Little Known Facts" where she teaches Linus many incorrect things, like snow coming up and not down and hitting your head on a tree will make the bark grow faster. Heather's other two standout scenes are the I Want to Be Queen segment and the crabbiness survey segment where she learns she is very crabby. One of the biggest scene stealers is Luke Witherell as Snoopy. He is a hoot throughout the whole show. Luke sings, dances and acts up a storm. He has many funny one liners and makes each of them count. Luke's funny moments and songs include the "Snoopy" song where he just wants to bite someone, the Red Baron monologue about being shot down in his World War I triplane which was triumphantly performed, the rabbit chasing scene and especially his jazzy song and Charleston dance to "Suppertime" which stops the show with hilarity. Bravo!

Patrick Murphy plays the thumb sucking, Linus excellently. He spouts many philosophical lines during the show. has many funny scenes, too, especially "My Blanket and Me" where he tries to give up the blanket but ends up dancing with it and the argument scene with Lucy during "Home on the Range." Linus storms offstage after Patty steals his pencil. He also has an hilarious reaction after Lucy punches him in the arm. His antics and reactions are priceless. This is Patrick's 15 production with Footlighters. Richie DeJesus plays Schroeder wonderfully. His singing voice is heard in "The Book Report" where he compares Peter Rabbit to Robin Hood as well as in a new song for the revival called "Beethoven's Day" where he wants the principal to declare a new holiday. It's a rock number mixed with some of Beethoven's musical selections incorporated in it. Richie also conducts "Home on the Range" when Linus, Lucy and Sally argue during it. His facial expressions while Lucy tries to seduce him are hysterical, too. Last but not least is Elaine Sheffield-Bono as Sally. She is a spitfire performer who delivers her clever one liners splendidly. She also stops the show with her fabulous solo "My New Philosophy" which was written for the revival. Sally keeps changing her philosophy every time she hears some new phrase she likes. Elaine also does the Rabbit chase with Snoopy and sings most of "Home on the Range" until she hears Linus called her an enigma where she storms offstage. She also does a super job as the blanket in the dance with Linus. So for a marvelous version of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown", be sure to catch it at Walpole Footlighters where everyone will thoroughly enjoy it. It will bring back many wonderful memories of the Peanuts gang for one and all.

YOU"RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (6 to 22 May)
Walpole Footlighters, 2 Scout Road, Walpole, MA
1(508)668-8446 or www.footlighters.com




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