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

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entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown!"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The opening show of Community Players' 90th season is the 1999 revival version of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" which is based on Charles Shultz's beloved Peanuts" comic strip. The Pawtucket Arts Festival cosponsors this show.The revival opened on February 5, 1999 and made a star of Kristen Chenoweth, winning her the Tony Award for best featured actress where she played 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 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 Andrew Bobola infuses this show with high energy from start to finish with his talented cast while music director Ronald Procopio not only conducts his three piece orchestra but plays the keyboards and taught the glorious music to the cast. The show is rewarded with a standing ovation at curtain call.

Andy's topnotch dances include the opening number, the blanket song with the cast dancing with their blankets, the baseball song, the Beethoven number and the show stopping "Suppertime" where the cast enters dancing with supper bowls. Ron makes them sound excellent in their songs especially "Beethoven Day", "Book Report" and "Happiness". Leading this cast is Ryan Leverone as Charlie Brown. He captures the expressions of the character wonderfully and displays the various emotions of hurt, disappointment, anger, longing and eventual happiness. Ryan's comic moments occur in the lunch scene with lunch bag on his head, in the kite scene and his interactions with Snoopy and the other characters in the show. Ryan shows off his fantastic singing voice in solo moments which include his section in the title number, "The Kite", "The Doctor Is In", "The Book Report" and "The Baseball Song".Lucy is beautifully played by Kimberly Simone who is a gorgeous brunette. She is very comical in "Schroeder" song while he plays The Moonlight Sonata, she sings to him about marriage and also shines in the Crabbiness survey and the Queen segment, too. Kimberly is hilarious as she counts the words of her book report on Peter Rabbit as well as in "The Doctor Is In" where she insults Charlie Brown and in "Little Known Facts" where she tells Linus that snow falls up and if you hit your head on the bark of trees it makes them grow faster.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Greg Gillis as Snoopy who bleached his hair blond for the show. His comic timing and facial expressions are outstanding in all his vignettes especially in the opening when he bites the tires of the bus, in Home on the Range when he keeps taking everyone's spot as they leave and in the crabbiness survey when he gives Lucy the raspberry with his thumbs down and in his solos. He stops the show with his singing and dancing to "Suppertime" and sounds like Al Jolson at one point in the song. Greg is hilarious in the "Snoopy" song when he wants to bite someone and in "Red Baron" monologue where he climbs on top of his doghouse and threatens to shoot the World War 1 Fokker triplane out of the sky. Erika Pastel is dynamite as Sally Brown. She wears a blond wig in this role and makes Sally a strong girl who knows her own mind and demands that Snoopy help her hunt rabbits. They chase them with the music from an opera and ballet moves as they run thru the audience. Greg throws stuffed rabbits out to the crowd during the Book Report song. Patty is upset by getting a C on her hanger design at school and creates a philosophy of her own to disagree with everyone. Erika stops the show with her "My New Philosophy" number with her strong vocal skills and also sings "Home on the Range" with the chorus after Linus calls Patty an enigma.

Joseph Nicastro who I last reviewed as Leading Player in "Pippin" at RIC, plays Schroeder. He shows off his powerful baritone voice in Home on the Range but also in the newly created revival show song called "Beethoven's Day" where he wants the principal to declare a new holiday. Joseph knocks your socks off with his powerful voice in this number,a rock song with bits of Beethoven music interspersed in it. Joseph also sings the Robin Hood section of the Book Report and his voice soars off the charts. Derek Capobianco who I also reviewed in "Pippin" (in which he sang "Simple Joys") has a fantastic tenor voice. He gets to show it off in "My Blanket and Me" where he does a soft shoe dance with a dancing blanket while the rest of the cast dances with their blankets, too. He uses a lisp as Linus and is very funny in this part as he does pratfalls when Lucy slugs him, sucks his thumb and makes her cry at the end of the crabbiness survey. He does the philosophical part of Book Report and has a touching scene with Kimberly when he tells her that Lucy has a little brother who loves her very much. The closing group number "Happiness" tugs at your heartstrings and leaves you with tears in your eyes. So for a wonderful family show, be sure to catch "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in Pawtucket.

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown!" (10 - 19 September)
@ Jenks Jonior High School, Division Street, PAWTUCKET RI
1 (401)726-6860

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide