Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Also see Garrett's review of Dairyland
Clark Gesner's book recreates some of Schulz' classic comic strip vignettes and adds a handful of new ones, with additional dialogue supplied by Michael Mayer for the 1999 Broadway revival. Gesner and Mayer bring to life the beautiful mix of childish personas with adult perspectives which were characteristic of Mr. Schulz' cartoons. Gesner also provides character-developing music and lyrics; in many cases, the songs are scenes in and of themselves. The Broadway revival also introduced some new music and songs by Andrew Lippa, paying homage to the American jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, who scored many of the Charlie Brown made-for-TV animated specials.
Each cast member gets their moment to shine with a musical number. Nicky Taylor brings the sympathetic and loveable Charlie Brown to life with great warmth. Gabriel Yarborough delights as the blanket-toting Linus van Pelt. And as Linus' sister Lucy, Britney Duong can't help but grab attention, just as her character would. Bryan Bunch, as the piano prodigy Schroeder, proves that every day should be "Beethoven Day." A highlight is the eleven o'clock number, "Suppertime," sung with great enthusiasm and talent by Tim Poliquin as Snoopy. And as Sally Brown, the wonderful Caroline Moore gives Kristin Chenoweth (who won a Tony Award for this role in the Broadway revival) a run for her money, singing one of Mr. Lippa's song additions, "My New Philosophy."
Matthew Hurley has proved himself a talent as a director, and his creative team members seem to know these characters and their comic strip fondly. Elizabeth Newton's scenic design and Darby Mitchell's lighting design transport the audience to a minimalist yet purposeful newspaper print land filled with color and whimsy. Rae Quarles' sound design adds great effects and humor. Costumes by Jenny Mitchell capture the essence of each character, right down to Charlie Brown's yellow zig-zag pattern shirt. Mitchell has found a creative way to dress Snoopy, making human performance possible while paying perfect tribute to the blissful beagle.
Running just over an hour and a half with no intermission, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown never feels labored. Whether you grew up reading the comics and watching the TV specials or are introducing a younger generation to Charlie Brown and his crew, you surely will leave with happiness in your heart. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is so much more than mere peanuts.
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs through November 3, 2019, at Raleigh Little Theatre, Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh NC. Tickets can be purchased online at www.raleighlittletheatre.org or by phone at 919-821-3111.
Based on the comic strip "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz