“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Sierra Madre Playhouse
The title above is misleading. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is performed outdoors at nearby Sierra Madre Memorial Park. And it is great to be in the company of happy adults and children outdoors under the sky with covid protocols observed. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown has been around for along time, having been staged again and again everywhere since 1967. A little research brought up some interesting facts, like, for instance, that the late lamented Orson Bean sang the role of Charlie Brown for the first recording, and that Christin Chenoweth won a Tony Award for her role as Sally in the 1998-99 Broadway revival. Which is all to say that the show has been around pleasing audiences for a very long time. I watched my nephew play the role of Snoopy in the High Sierra at his school at Truckee, California. Much later, I watched an excellent actor friend play the role in Santa Cruz sometime after the turn of the century. As for the comic strip itself, its fifty-year run ended when Charles Schultz died in 2000: a billion dollars richer.
Sierra Madre Playhouse has put up a delightful production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown with an amiable, enthusiastic cast of young actors who sing and dance up a storm. The squat cartoon characters can’t be replicated, but the ancient trope of “the willing suspension of disbelief” saves the day. Lanky Hamilton Davis Weaver is fine as the angst-ridden Charlie Brown, who is always called Charlie Brown and never just Charlie or even Chuck.
His nemesis Lucy (Mary Zastrow) is delightfully self-centered, and almost evil in her self-absorbed machinations. Her passion for Schroeder (Luke Sweeney), the Beethoven fan, gets nowhere as he plays on his little piano trying to be oblivious to the unwanted wiles of Lucy. Her little brother, the thumb sucking, blanket clutching Linus (Melvin Biteng) is a voice of reason compared to his sister. Charlie’s baby-sister, Sally (the utterly delightful Marcha Kia) sings and dances up a storm. She won my heart.
And last, but far from least, is Charlie’s dog, Snoopy played with astounding gusto and endless energy by Alexander Mashikian, who frankly steals the show. His World War I battle against the Red Baron is priceless.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is well produced and directed by Christian Lebano, with Gary Lamb serving as associate producer. Sean Paxton is the musical director; Palmer Davis is choreographer.
The creative staff includes Nick Santiago, scenic design; Shon Leblanc, costume design; Derek Jones, lighting design; Diahann McCrary, wig design; And Gary Lamb and Jeanne Valleroy, SFX design. Jeanne Valleroy also serves as production stage manager, assisted by Payton Emerson. Todd McCraw is technical director, assisted by John Dimitri. Owen Lewis is production manager; Christa Backstrom serves as dramaturg and audience engagement; Pamela Winters is house manager; and Mary Baville is service manager.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs Friday, September 10; Saturday, September 11; and Sunday, September 12. See it before it is gone.