YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWNBased on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer
Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Resolute Theatre Project
Director – Beth Allen
Musical Director—Kristal Seid
Scenic Designer –Kristal Seid
Lighting Designer—Branson White
Costume Designer – Samantha Young
Lucy—Araceli Radillo Bowling
Charlie Brown—Shawn Gann
Peppermint Patty/Blankette--Katie Buck
Frieda/Little Red Headed Girl/Blankette--Samantha Young
Reviewed Performance: 9/2/2017
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Pacing seemed to drag and be a bit of an issue on Saturday night, but, I am confident that the production will tighten up as it moves into the next round of performances this weekend.
Musical Direction and the scenic design was done by Kristal Seid. I thought that the ensemble displayed some wonderful musical talents. I was slightly disappointed in the scenic design. I realize there are a great deal of limitations in a small space. However, I do not think the size of the venue was what disappointed me. Upon entering the space, I was immediately taken aback by the black and white comic drawings of the daily comic strip. At first glance, audiences view the very first panel of the “Peanuts” comic strip-with the title, and the depiction of a tangled kite string wrapped around a tree.
Audiences also see the instantly recognizable dog house of Snoopy- also in black and white. It left me a little confused as to why the backgrounds were in black and white and the characters were full of color and life. It was almost as if the two versions of the Peanuts comic strip (the daily and the Sunday edition) were merging together. It did not quite read very clearly to me. My 7-year-old son immediately asked me (upon seeing Snoopy's dog house) "Why isn't it red?" Indeed, it left me a little confused and pondering that question myself. I was also a little confused by the mixture of the music during the preshow and the intermission. I instantly recognized tunes from the Vince Guaraldi Trio. However, there was an apparent mixture of music from “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It seemed a little out of place. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel in the holiday spirit, or just immersed into the world of the Peanuts’ characters with the original score. The mixture of the material was slightly strange, as it was interwoven with each other. I was glad to hear the sounds of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, though. It has certainly come to be expected as any performance of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, depending on the time of year, of course.
Costumes were designed by Samantha Young. I was very impressed with Ms. Young's attention to detail through the costume design. Each character wore exactly what I would expect them to wear, as if they had jumped out of the comic strip and had to come to life on stage. With characters that are such a part of American culture, and are so iconic, often times I feel like designers can either go two different routes. They can either recreate the wardrobe exactly and evoke a great deal of nostalgia for audiences, or they can opt to take their own creative license and do something totally different. If they choose to take that route, the designer risks the disappointment of the audience, and thereby loses the emotional attachment to these characters. Ms. Young was able to successfully reimagine the clothes of each of these characters-from Charlie Brown's yellow and black chevron polo, to the starchy blue "Lucy" dress, Ms. Young paid great attention to detail and transported the audience directly into the world of the Peanuts.
Araceli Radillo Bowling was wonderful in the role of bossy, and brash Lucy Van Pelt. Ms. Bowling really brought an element of humor to the production. Ms. Bowling had fantastic facial expressions, and was very animated. It is apparent to me that she spent time researching the animated specials, and reading the comic strip in her approach to portray her character. Ms. Bowling had some nice moments of chemistry on stage with Schroeder (played by Joshua Hahlen) and Charlie Brown (Shawn Gann). Ms. Bowling brought the appropriate bit of reminiscence in her portrayal of Lucy, and overall, was the most amusing and pleasing actor on stage. Another standout was Shawn Gann in the role of loveable, but cheerless Charlie Brown (or “Chuck” as he is often affectionately referred to by Peppermint Patty). Mr. Gann had some nice interactions with the audience (one of my favorite moments is the “Lunchtime” monologue, when he goes back and forth wondering if the object of his affection (the little red haired girl) is noticing him sitting all alone of the bench. His nervousness gets the better of him, and he spends the rest of the lunch period with a paper sack over his head-lamenting if she is noticing him or not. Mr. Gann played Charlie Brown with a nice mixture of humor, sadness and disappointment. It was entertaining to see his interactions with friends, dog Snoopy, and with his sister, Sally. Mr. Gann’s performance was an accurate depiction of the character created by Charles Schulz all those years ago. Completing the principle ensemble was Jacey Lett (as Sally), John Pfaffenberger (Linus Van Pelt) and the enthusiastic and energetic Kiba Walker as Snoopy, the personified pet beagle. Mr. Pfaffenberger convincingly portrayed the younger Van Pelt sibling, Linus. Linus has always been one of my favorite Peanuts’ characters. Linus always seemed the most “adult” to me. His kind words and wisdom were portrayed with loving care by Mr. Pfaffenberger. It was very enjoyable and entertaining for me. Ms. Lett brought a surprising and different approach to the character of Sally. If you are expecting the demure and innocent character quite often portrayed in the television specials, you will be surprised. Ms. Lett played the character very much in the style of Saturday Night Live, or MAD TV. She was over the top, and tried very to make the audience laugh. I am not sure how I felt about that. Like the other Peanuts’ characters, their personalities have been deeply rooted in our culture. It was strange to see Sally portrayed with such over the top comedy and delivery. Overall, the production was fun and enjoyable to watch. I encourage you to get out and support the Resolute Theatre Project’s production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”. You have the opportunity and option to see the Adult Cast, or the Youth Cast perform in this production. It will be a fun walk down memory lane for those that remember Charlie Brown, or those that have never experienced the humor and playfulness of the Peanuts characters.
Resolute Theatre Project
Amy’s Studio of Performing Arts, 11888 Marsh Ln. #600 Dallas, Texas 75234
Friday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 pm (Adult Cast)
Saturday, Sept. 9 at 2:30 pm (Youth Cast) and 7:30 pm (Adult Cast)
Sunday, Sept. 10 at 2:30pm (Sensory Friendly
Performance) and 7:30 pm (Youth Cast)
For tickets visit: www.ResoluteTheatreProject.com or call: 972-484-7900