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

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents Copyright 2009 Tony Annicone

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The summer show at Bay Colony Productions 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 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 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 Dori Bryan infuses this show with high energy from start to finish with her multitalented 8 member cast while music director Fred Frabotta not only conducts his three piece orchestra but plays the keyboards and taught the glorious music to the talented cast. The bright and colorful costumes by Daniel Kozar are the perfect finishing touches to this fantastic evening of entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together. The show is rewarded with a standing ovation at curtain call.

Dori makes this show sparkle and shine with her inventive blocking of each vignette and choreography skills. The excellent dances include the opening number, the blanket song, the Beethoven song, the baseball song and the show stopping "Suppertime"(with the other cast members joining Snoopy using supper bowls for hats) are splendid and the cast does a dynamite job with them. Fred makes them sound topnotch in their songs and his orchestra complements the performers without overpowering them. Michael Texieira built the playground set complete with swing, slide and seesaw. the psychiatrist booth and giant doghous . He is tech director and stage manager, keeping things moving smoothly all night long. Ed DiMarzio does the sound while Mike also lights the show expertly with Kathleen Comber on the lighting board. Gail Gilman handles the many props including the Valentines, supper bowls, canes and baseball gear, too. Leading this cast is Bill Cunningham plays Charlie Brown. He is a multitalented performer who captures the essence of the character with wonderful facial expressions to display his various emotions of hurt, disappointment, longing and eventual happiness. Bill's comic side comes through in the lunch scene with the lunch bag on his head, in the kite scene when it gets caught on Lucy's neck and his interactions with Snoopy and the other characters in the play. He shows off his terrific voice in solo moments which include his section in the title number, "The Kite", "The Doctor Is In" and "The Book Report" and "The Baseball Song". Lucy is excellently played by Marissa Silva who is a gorgeous brunette and recently won a Motif award for playing Rizzo in "Grease". She is very comical in the "Schroeder" song while he plays The Moonlight Sonata, she sings to him about marriage. Marissa also shines in the Crabbiness survey and the Queen segment, too. Her counting of the words in the Peter Rabbit book report song is hilarious as is "The Doctor is In" with Bill and "Little Known Facts" where she tells Linus the craziest explanation that snow falls up and hitting your head on the bark of trees makes them grow faster with Charlie Brown banging his head in frustration at her.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Adam Joy as Snoopy. His dog costume complete with tail by Daniel is hilarious. His comic timing and facial expressions are outstanding in all his vignettes especially in the crabbiness survey when he gives Lucy the raspberry with his thumbs down and in his solo numbers. Adam's singing and tap dancing to "Suppertime" as an old time vaudevillian stops the show (with the chorus in the background) and is another feather in his cap. He sells his lines with ease especially when he wants to bite someone in the "Snoopy" song and in "Red Baron" monologue where he climbs on top of his doghouse and threatens to shoot the World War 1 Fokker plane out of the sky are a hoot. (The cloud background adds a lot to this scene.) Jess Andra plays the role of Sally Brown. She makes Sally, a strong girl who knows her own mind and demands that Snoopy help her hunt rabbits. Jess and Adam dance after the rabbits to music from Mission Impossible and Hawaii Five O. She is upset by getting a D on her hanger design at school and creates a philosophy of her own to disagree with everyone. Jess sounds like Kristen Cheneweth and her "My New Philosophy" number stops the show with her fantastic voice. She also sings "Home on the Range" after Linus calls her an enigma. with the chorus.

Kevin Hanley who I reviewed as Peter last summer in "Superstar" as well as Roger in "Rent" in 2007, plays Schroeder who not only gets to sing solo in Home on the Range but in the newly created revival show song called "Beethoven's Day" where he wants the principal to declare a new holiday. It is a rock song with bits of Beethoven music interspersed in it. Kevin also sings the Robin Hood section of the Book Report. Brendan Colcord who is majoring in musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York is Linus. He gets to do a soft shoe in "My Blanket and Me", sings the philosophical part of "Book Report" and adds a lot to the chorus numbers, too. Brendan adds a lisp to his character of Linus, sucks his thumb and does a pratfall when Lucy punches him in the stomach. The whole cast also sings the poignant "Happiness" which leaves tears in your eyes! Mary Arruda as Marcie and Candice Sampson as Little Redhaired Girl add their beautiful singing voices and topnotch dancing to this, too. So for a fabulous rendition of the beloved characters from the Peanuts comic strip be sure to catch "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in Foxboro. ( I directed this show several times with the first one in 1979.)

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" (7 - 16 August)
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508) 543-ARTS ext. 4

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide