Worth way more than Peanuts

Todd
Todd MacLean
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You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown delightful show at The Guild

If you are in the mood for lighthearted comedy based on one of the most adored comic strips of all time, and presented by some of the best professional theatre actors on the Island this summer, then, good grief, go see You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown this weekend.

Presented at The Guild by Head First Productions, the musical is, of course, based on “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz. It originally opened in 1967 in New York at Theatre 80 St. Marks and has played for thousands of performances, including revivals on Broadway, since then.

And now — thanks to the enthusiastic drive of a production team led by director Brieonna Locche (who will be playing Diana in this summer’s Anne & Gilbert – The Musical), musical director Noah MacDougall (from the same show, who will be playing young Stompin’ Tom in The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom this summer) and choreography by Tyrell Witherspoon of the Charlottetown Festival’s Anne of Green Gables, Evangeline and now Canada ROCKS!) — the musical has been brought to life for Island audiences this spring.

Featuring a stellar cast of David Light as Charlie Brown (also playing in Canada ROCKS! and Anne of Green Gables – The Musical this summer), Jessica Gallant as Sally (also returning to the Charlottetown Festival this summer), Andrew German as Linus (returning to Anne & Gilbert – The Musical this summer), along with Locche (who plays Lucy), MacDougall (as Schroeder) and Witherspoon (as Snoopy), the play is quite a showcase of fine acting and impressive ensemble and solo vocal work, decorated with some bang-on comedic timing as well.

On a side note, as well, I must take a moment to mention how awesome it is that these creative-energy-inspired actors from both the Charlottetown Festival and Anne & Gilbert – The Musical have come together for this effort: proving, of course that even though there may have been the reported on-the-surface administrative conflicts between the two Charlottetown theatrical productions last summer, the relations between company cast members are evidently on a much different positive page.

Getting back to good ol’ Charlie Brown, I’ve realized that perhaps an applicable slogan for Peanuts could perhaps be, “Peanuts: Let’s take a moment to laugh at first-world kid problems.”

Truly, though, the comic strip does a brilliant job of exploring these realities — and it presents it all in such an unfailingly engaging, forever-compelling and always-entertaining manner.

And, in turn, the musical adaptation possesses the exact same delightful mood.

Of course, there are the psychiatric help counselling sessions with overbearing Lucy and depressed Charlie Brown, there are those irritating kites that won’t fly, there are those mean ropes that can’t be jumped by exasperated Sally, there is Linus and his blanket that he cannot bear to be separated from, there are the unreasonable book reports due, there are the baseball games lost, and so on. But then, there are always two scoops of ice cream ... and then, well, somehow, those seemingly monumental problems can be dissolved so easily away.

Amid the complexity of our modern-day lives, to be able to indulge and escape to this world of simplicity in Peanuts is such a welcomed change. And what a treat it is for Island audiences to be able to enjoy it all in stage format this spring.

Through outstanding musical support led by associate musical director Leo Marchildon on keyboard and with Isaac Williams on bass and Mike Gallant on drums, the musical is fueled with top-notch live accompaniment and sound effects all throughout.

And presented on a stage whose imagery makes you feel quite uncannily absorbed into that world of Peanuts (with set design by Shawn Arsenault and creative help by the actors themselves), the experience is moreover enhanced.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs in three final performances at The Guild this weekend — today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Next week: I’ll be telling you all about Grease!, a musical with perhaps a similar — but at the same time very different — take on the lives of the youth of yesteryear.

 

Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at tmaclean@theguardian.pe.ca or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.

Todd's Weekend Picks:

 

1. Charlottetown Rural presents Grease – Confederation Centre Homburg Theatre, today and tomorrow at 8 p.m.

2. Dr. Magnificent’s Travelling Musical Medicine Show presented by Young at Heart – Wheatley River Community Hall, today at 7:30 p.m. and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, tomorrow at 2 p.m.

3. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown – The Guild, today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m.

4. Jesus Christ Superstar presented by The Fandango Musical Players, Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside, today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

5. Vishtèn – The Mack, today at 7:30 p.m.

6. Larque and The Downwalls – Hunter’s Ale House, today at 10:30 p.m.

7. Caledonian Club of P.E.I.’s 150th anniversary Scottish gala banquet – Confederation Centre Memorial Hall, tomorrow at 6:30 p.m

Organizations: The Guild, Centre Homburg Theatre, Anglican Church Harbourfront Theatre The Mack Ale House Caledonian Club of P.E.I.

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Green Gables, New York Broadway St. Paul

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