BWW Review: YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park
The "Peanuts" gang has arrived at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park with "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," running now through May 18. The musical is guaranteed to have something for everyone. Catchy songs, an important lesson of self-love and self-discovery, insane talent and, of course, a fair share of nostalgia that comes with revisiting a classic cartoon.
While the musical still has the same book and score as the original 1967 production, the staging done at Playhouse is completely reimagined. The cast is made up entirely of actor-musicians, which makes for a much more intimate, entertaining and frankly, a more interesting show than the original. In addition to the reimagined staging, there's also new arrangements to enhance both the characters and the story. There are many moments where kazoos, a toy piano and other toy instruments are used which adds the childlike and cartoony nature to the show.
"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" is a true ensemble piece made up of some of the most talented actors to grace the Playhouse stage. Each brings something so wonderful and honest to the iconic characters that we all know and hold so dear.
The story follows Charlie Brown and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang as Charlie Brown tries to figure out his strengths and what brings him joy. Audiences also get a better grasp of the other characters along the way as they get their own moments to shine, such as Snoopy fighting the Red Baron, Lucy trying to convince Schroder to marry her, Linus trying to overcome his security blanket attachment and more.
Rob Morrison is an absolute delight as Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown is a very sensitive, compassionate and kind boy, but is stuck on a streak of bad luck and low self-esteem that has him down in the dumps. Morrison brings such heart to the "Peanuts" character. There is a scene where Charlie laments about his crush on the little red-haired girl at lunchtime to the audience, and it feels hilariously yet heartbreakingly real for a kid of Charlie Brown's age. Morrison executes every scene and song with such raw honesty that makes it so the audience can't help but feel for and root for him.
Lauren Molina, one of the co-creators, is a complete star as the spunky and bossy Lucy. She starts the show with a large megaphone fit for a cartoon, and from that moment she has the most incredible childlike energy about her. Every time Molina is onstage, you can't help but watch and admire her and her obvious work ethic. Lucy's character is right on the fine line of being over-the-top obnoxious, and Molina navigates this flawlessly. Lucy's psychiatric stand makes an appearance as she tries to figure out what is wrong with Charlie Brown in the song "The Doctor Is In," which is one of the highlights of the show as Molina's chemistry with Morrison is so fun to watch, and their voices mesh perfectly.