Monday, February 6

Theater Review: You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown by Buck Creek Players

An appreciation of the Buck Creek Players’ 200th production, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, starts with a recognition of the show’s production values. Director Steven R. Linville and his creative team have done a wonderful job of translating one of the world’s most beloved comic strips into a three-dimensional setting.

Set designer Dan Denniston’s work is particularly impressive. Whether it is Snoopy’s doghouse, a school bus, an over-sized easy chair or Lucy’s psychiatrist’s booth famously proclaiming that “The Doctor is In,” Denniston’s designs (and their execution) accurately capture the look and feel of the panels from Charles Schulz’s famous comic strip. Costume designer Donna Jacobi also does a nice job: her costuming for Snoopy is especially clever, while her Woodstock is a work of art. As its name implies, You’re a Good Man, documents the trials and travails of one Charlie Brown, a self-deprecating young man who remains admirably determined to try his best against all odds. He can never win a ballgame (but continues playing baseball); he can never successfully fly a kite (but continues trying to do so); has a terrible crush on a pretty red-haired girl (but can never quite muster up the courage to talk to her … you get the idea). Charlie’s story is told in a series of vignettes and musical numbers, making You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown more like watching a live-action comic strip than a show with a traditional narrative.

Buck Creek has assembled a winning cast to tell this story, starting with D. Scott Robinson (who makes for an able and admirable Charlie Brown). Jessica Bartley is consistently funny (and uber-cute) as Charlie’s argumentative kid sister, Sally. Stacia Ann Hulen is appropriately bossy as Peanuts’ diva-in-waiting, Lucy Van Pelt, while Jacob E. Peterman does a nice job as her younger (and overly philosophical little brother), Linus. Scott A. Fleshood (Schroeder), Jonathan D. Krouse (Snoopy) and Emma Wilson (a quirky and endearing Woodstock) round out the cast … with Fleshood and Krouse each leading the cast in two shop-stopping numbers: Beethoven Day (Fleshood) and Suppertime (Krouse) … with Suppertime being especially snazzy, filled with old-style Broadway razzmatazz.

Peanuts has always been one of our most literate comic strips, with surprisingly complex philosophical and psychological overtones that - in its heyday in the 1960s and '70s - catapulted the comic strip into pop culture icon status (Peanuts ended publication with Charles Schulz’s death in 2000). And while adults can still look back on Peanuts and its characters with fondness, today a show like You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is really for kids and those who are kids at heart.

If anything works against Buck Creek’s Charlie Brown, it is that the show’s late January/early February run dates (in the dead of winter, when most folks stay at home) may rob the show of the younger, more family-oriented audience it deserves. So …

If you’re looking for some fun, family-oriented entertainment for your kids (and the kid in you), it is well worth your time to brave the cold, journey to Buck Creek and join Charlie, Sally, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Schroeder and Woodstock as they tell the delightful (and delightfully entertaining) story of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown Buck Creek Players
Dates: February 3, 4, 10 and 11 at 8:00 February 5, 12 at 2:30

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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