Review: YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Adventure Theatre

The production runs through October 29.

By: Sep. 23, 2023
Review: YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN at Adventure Theatre

Few comic strip characters have become as ingrained in the collective American consciousness as Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" gang. For the latter half of the twentieth century, they were fixtures in the comics section of every major newspaper. In one of the bittersweet coincidences which history periodically bestows upon us, the final, elegaic "Peanuts" strip was published on February 13, 2000, the day after Schulz's death.  The last word:"Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, can I ever forget them..."  Indeed, through merchandise, television specials, parade floats, MetLife commercials, it's been pretty much assured that no one can forget them.

Adventure Theatre at Glen Echo Park's production of the musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" features the four characters mentioned in the last strip in addition to Charlie Brown's little sister Sally and musician Schroeder.  It's an opportunity for longtime fans to visit old friends and for a younger generation to get to know the classic characters.

The play lacks a central narrative; rather, it features a series of vignettes focused on the sorts of situations and dilemmas that were typically depicted in the strip. Jimmy Bartlebaugh endearingly portrays the eponymous character as the pertpetually young, hapless but determined blockhead we all remember. He struggles to get his kite to fly and to work up the courage to approach his evergreen (unseen) crush, the Little Red-Headed Girl. Elsewhere, Lucy (Caroline Graham) conducts a study to see how crabby a person she is, runs her five-cent psychiatrist stand, and attempts to woo Schroeder. Linus (Deimoni Brewington) encourages Charlie Brown, fights with his sister Lucy, and clings to his iconic blue security blanket.  Snoopy (Christian Montgomery) signs of his love for supper and enacts shootouts with the Red Baron atop his doghouse. Sally (Julia Lennon) argues about her grade wtih her teacher (represented, as adults always were in the animated specials, with a "wah-wah" sound.) Schroeder (Quincy Vicks) campaigns for Beethoven's birthday to be made a holiday while fending off Lucy's amorous advances.

Directer Kurt Boehm makes the 70-minute runtime a lively romp. Josh Sticklin's set brilliantly recalls the look of the comic strip. Pianist Elisa Rosman, Drummer Jo Huling and wind section Mitch Bassman, Lindsay Williams, and Dana Gardner provide the accompaniment for the many songs. 

"You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" provides a pleasant diversion for all ages. I sat next to a woman who was attending with three young kids, all of whom were enraptured by the goings-on. 

In the lobby, patrons may buy plush Snoopy dolls to support the Montgomery County Humane society.

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From This Author - Peter Rouleau

Peter Rouleau is an indie author, college professor, and theater artist who lives in Montgomery County Maryland. His favorite theatrical memories include getting to recite "To Be or Not to Be&quo... Peter Rouleau">(read more about this author)


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