note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey
The only people who love their funny papers more than the French are Americans. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool "Peanuts" fan, then "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Turtle Lane is the musical for you.
Charles Schulz' beloved characters leap off the page and tumble onto the stage for an evening of living comics. Each scene of about two dozen (book by John Gordon) is one complete cartoon consisting of two or three panels, like Snoopy's dreams of trouncing the Red Baron or Lucy's out-patient lemonade stand. You may, in fact, remember them all as they come to life at The Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton.
Clark Gesner's songs flesh out the comic strip and punch up the humor: songs like Lucy's preposterous "Little Known Facts" and Linus' "My Blanket And Me" give the show a depth and whimsy you can't capture in pen and ink. Thanks to Wayne Ward's seamless musical direction, each song delivers the right punch.
Director Lora Chase's charming cast cavorts on Ron L. Dion's giant kindergarten block-set in Val Verge's picture perfect costumes --- with Snoopy getting a flying scarf, breeze or no breeze, for his aerial dogfight ... and opinionated Lucy getting the loudest ensemble: a bright blue Sunday best dress with starched white Peter Pan collar and spanking new saddle-shoes.
It's great fun to see familiar actors in a repertory company play wildly different roles, and "Charlie Brown" features a passel of TLP regulars like Chuck and Susan Walsh as Charlie Brown and Lucy. Chuck is adorably crestfallen as the sadsack everychild who just wants to fit in, and Susan rules the roost as the tyrannical cutue pie of the strip. And Tyler Hart is such an endearing Linus you want to adopt him and take him home.
Craig Spanner is marvellously wry as Schroeder, the quiet counterpoint to Lucy's steamroller. Holly Wade is winning as meek little Patty and Christopher Mack merely as to lie face down atop his doghouse to steal the show out from under the humans. Happiness is.. A sweet, simple show done the way it ought to be