Talkin' Broadway HomePast ColumnsAbout the Author

Washington DC by Susan Berlin

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Also see Susan's recap of the 2012 Helen Hayes Award Nominations

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a good first musical for parents wanting to introduce their children to the joys of people singing and dancing on a stage. (Personal note: the original Off-Broadway production was one of the first musicals I saw in New York.) Olney Theatre Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, has created an entertaining, tuneful production whose charms outweigh the rough edges.

Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, died in 2000, but his creations—Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Linus and Lucy, and many others—live on through reprints of the original comic strips, animated television specials, and this musical, which originally opened Off-Broadway in 1967 and, with some revisions, had a Broadway run in 1999. The original creator, Clark Gesner (book, music and lyrics), highlighted each character in the framework of "an average day in the life of Charlie Brown," while playwright Michael Mayer and Andrew Lippa contributed new dialogue and two new songs respectively.

On Robert Andrew Kovach's comic-inspired scenic design—two-dimensional, "hand-drawn" pieces of furniture framed by a proscenium and curtain displaying samples of Schulz's art—director/choreographer Stephen Nachamie has assembled six performers who not only sing, dance and act, they can inhabit some of the most familiar characters in popular culture. The ones who earn the most attention for their exuberant performances are the women: Janine Sunday as Lucy Van Pelt and Jaimie Kelton as Sally Brown.

Sunday, a frequent Helen Hayes Award nominee, has the brassy voice and outsized personality for everybody's favorite "supercrab" and pre-teen psychiatrist. Kelton is a petite powerhouse who tears through her solo, "My New Philosophy," in the role that won Kristin Chenoweth a Tony Award.

As Snoopy (the other Tony-winning role), James Gardiner gets to do a little of everything. He goes rabbit hunting with Sally in an increasingly silly series of vignettes; fights the Red Baron while wearing an aviator's scarf that defies gravity; throws a tantrum in gibberish; and combines a variety of vocal styles—a little cabaret, some scat and gospel—in his big number, "Suppertime."

Vishal Vaidya is a smooth Schroeder, who gets his own solo with the pulsing "Beethoven Day" and tries his best to stand up to Lucy; as Linus, Paul Wyatt gets to shine in "My Blanket and Me"; and Zack Colonna is a sweet-faced, kind-hearted Charlie Brown.

Olney Theatre Center
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
February 22nd - March 18th
Based on the comic strip "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz
Book, music, and lyrics by Clark Gesner
Additional dialogue by Michael Mayer
Additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Sally Brown: Jaimie Kelton
Lucy Van Pelt: Janine Sunday
Snoopy: James Gardiner
Schroeder: Vishal Vaidya
Charlie Brown: Zack Colonna
Linus Van Pelt: Paul Wyatt
Directed and choreographed by Stephen Nachamie
Musical director: Christopher Youstra
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road
Olney, MD
Ticket Information: 301-924-3400 or www.olneytheatre.org


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



Terms of Service

[ © 1997 - 2014 www.TalkinBroadway.com, Inc. ]