Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 23 June 2016
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, June 21, 2016 ***1/2
& book by Clark Gesner Based on Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schultz Produced by Aleksander Vass & Vass Productions Alex
Theatre, Fitzroy St., St. Kilda, until July 2, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***1/2
Review also published in print in Herald Sun. (May not appear online in Arts Herald Sun.) KH
Clockwise from L-Courtney Glass, Joshua Robson, Luigi Lucente, Cameron MacDonald, Adam Porter, Sarah Morrison
M. Schultz’s whimsical and enduring comic strip, Peanuts, is lovingly recreated
by live actors in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Clark Gesner’s charming and
entertaining American musical for the entire family.
Abrahams’ production is swiftly paced and gleefully silly, with snappy
choreography by Dana Jolly, slick musical direction by Ben Kiley, vivid
costumes (Chloe Greeves) and it is performed on a cartoonish stage design (Jacob Battista).
Gesner’s episodic narrative echoes the
structure of Schultz’s comic strips and the dialogue incorporates such
timeless, Schultzian gems as the characters’ exasperated exclamations, “Aaaargh!”
and “Good grief!”
The live songs, accompanied by a backing
track, are perky, cheerful and eminently singable musical theatre tunes with
witty lyrics that also pay tribute to Schultz.
is perfectly cast as the hapless, Charlie Brown, playing him as perpetually
bewildered with a downward-tilted mouth and
drooping shoulders that embody Charlie’s melancholic attitude, heightened
childhood anxiety and desperate need to be liked.
MacDonald’s voice has a
bright timbre and warm tone and he expresses Charlie’s simple need to succeed in
the kite-flying song, The Kite.
The title song provides a jaunty and animated
opening chorus that introduces Charlie and all of his childhood pals, while the
finale, Happiness, ends the show on a positive note after so much childhood
angst, with Charlie and his friends celebrating things that make them happy.
A highlight is The Book Report, an ensemble
number that depicts the children’s various struggles, joys and distractions as
they each complete a book report on Peter Rabbit.
Lucente capers and sings as Snoopy, playfully giving this much-loved, doggy
character a human personality as he does his funky dude dancing and dreams of
being a World War One Flying Ace fighting the Red Baron from the comfort of the
roof of his kennel.
Courtney Glass captures Lucy’s
infamous crabby bossiness, vanity and bullying of Charlie Brown when singing
The Doctor Is In, and Adam Porter is
suitably philosophical, sensitive and
intellectually superior as her little brother, Linus, who
rejoices in his baby blanket in My Blanket and Me.
Joshua Robson revels in Schroeder’s Beethoven
obsession while Sarah Morrison portrays Charlie’s
sister, Sally’s childish imagination and her resentment about getting a D for her schoolwork.
This production is a diverting and authentic
homage to Schultz’s genius and it elicits shrieks of laughter from the kids and
is a hoot for those adults who are nostalgic about Peanuts.