Review: Celebrating the Peanuts with YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Brookfield Theatre For The Arts

Now through February 24th.

By: Feb. 20, 2024
Review: Celebrating the Peanuts with YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Brookfield Theatre For The Arts
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Nostalgia is a powerful tool. It can bring back memories that you had long forgotten, it can make you smile and laugh with fondness, but it can also hit differently today than you remember it as a kid. Like a parent watching a children’s television show, everyone will take something different away from any given piece of art, and what a child might see as a fun comic strip about a boy being pranked by a girl pulling a football out from under him can be a lot more nuanced to an adult who has grown and lived a life full of experience. Everyone experiences nostalgia differently, but at its core, its job is to make us feel. And the audience at Brookfield Theatre of the Arts’ production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was certainly feeling a lot.

Based off of the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schultz, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a musical with Book, Music, & lyrics by Clark Gesner with additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music & lyrics by Andrew Lippa in the revised version that is produced today. Staying in the spirit of the original comic strip, Charlie Brown is a collection of largely unrelated short skits, scenes, and vignettes that each focus on an important theme or emotion or obstacle to overcome. From the inability to fly a kite, to confronting your own crabbiness, the short form of comic strips allows the writer to pack a large punch in such a small amount of time.

But theater is a long-form style of entertainment, which can make short-form entertainment difficult to produce. That’s where the direction of Sharon Suchecki comes into play: To be able to wrangle the cast and crew to create a comprehensive, flowing production takes dedication and vision. By designing the set herself and integrating the lighting design by Ray DiStephen, the audience has the continuity of the cartoonish benches and walls of bright colors linking all of these skits together.

The power of the skits is in the characters, as they are the connective tissue that holds the musical together, and the cast of Charlie Brown were charming and inhabited the characters that everyone knows and loves well. Each actor embodied their personality traits well and the whole cast deserves plaudits for their commitment: Rob Bassett nails Charlie Brown’s fears and anxieties; Laura Majidian and Eliana Russotti embody the sibling relationship between Lucy and Linus Van Pelt while highlighting Lucy’s crabbiness and Linus’s need for comfort; Jami Valzania rocks it as Beethoven’s #1 fan, Schroeder, whose intelligence is constantly on display, which is foiled brilliantly by Bella Delgado’s overconfident yet childishly gullible Sally Brown; and lastly, what Peanuts show would be complete without the Dog of the Century, Snoopy, whose swagger and fleeting attention span was delightfully put center stage by Amanda Friedman.

The cast and crew come together to bring the joy of the Peanuts to life at Brookfield Theatre with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. With only 2 performances left on Friday and Saturday, Feb 23rd and 24th, at 8pm, you’ll want to grab your tickets quick at www.brookfieldtheatre.org.


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