BWW Review: You're a Good Show CHARLIE BROWN

BWW Review: You're a Good Show CHARLIE BROWN

The recent film "Peanuts" introduced a new generation to an old classic. The same might be said for earlier adaptations created for the stage. That the musical "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" features adult actors in child roles only serves to underscore the connection between young and old. A boy ponders his place in life at just five years of age and poses questions that follow all of mankind into adulthood. And so, Charlie Brown and his friends offer adults and children a shared experience, both fun and profound.

This month, the musical finds a cozy home at Playhouse Merced, where large cutouts of original cartoon designs and actual comic strips fill the set. A bright blue sky and painted fence allow the colorful characters to pop up for occasional surprises, just some of the delights director, choreographer Noelle DW Chandler has in store.

Chris Battisti provides an exciting light design for songs including "My Blanket and Me" and "Suppertime." Chris Espinoza and GB Blackmon III have particular fun as Linus and Snoopy during these odes to their favorite things. And Ronald Dailey also celebrates his favorite composer during the enjoyable "Beethoven Day" (spread the word). An enthusiastic and distracted Sally Brown (Laura Hopp) plays with her hair, jump ropes across the stage and considers her "New Philosophy." But the two true standouts of the musical are Natalie Woodfield's Lucy and Stephen Mouillesseaux as Charlie Brown, one an outspoken and "crabby" leader, the other a gentle and doubtful thinker. Both have excellent voices and both display above-and-beyond devotion to character. Although other vocals and one or two instances of odd timing could use work, the Merced production stays true to the heart of "Charlie Brown." After all, "Happiness" is so often found in live theatre.

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YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN
Playhouse Merced
Through Jan 24
http://www.playhousemerced.com/

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From This Author Harmony Wheeler

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