Many of us grew up reading Peanuts. The comic strip by the late Charles Schultz, with its daily dollops of wit, wisdom and humor, became part of our social fabric. Subsequent generations of children and adults have come to know Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, Sally, Charlie Brown and his dog, Snoopy, through the cartoon television specials that still run before Halloween and Christmas.
In 1967, Weston Playhouse Theatre Company alumnus Clark Gesner brought Schultz's characters to the stage, creating the music and lyrics for what eventually became "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown." Since that time, the show, with simple sets and costumes, has been produced by countless professional and community theater groups. In 1992, Gesner came home to play
Ali Gordon (Lucy) and Joey Dippel (schroeder) act in the Weston Playhouse's "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." (Tim Fort photo)
Snoopy in Weston's production of the beloved musical.
WPTC opened its summer season at its alternative stage at the Weston Rod and Gun Club (thankfully untouched by Hurricane Irene) with a joyous one-hour version of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Thursday's performance by Weston's Young Company, which incorporated some numbers and situations introduced since Weston's 1992 production, confirmed that happiness can be pizza with sausage, and that in the right hands, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" retains its ability to delight and move.
Dan Deluca headed a talented six-person ensemble as the hero, who struck out at the crucial moment in the baseball game and put a bag over his head when the little red-headed girl so much as looked
at him. Deluca's gentle interpretation reminded the audience that of all the Charlie Browns in the world, this round-headed Everyman is the "Charlie Browniest." Ali Gordon's turn as the, ahem, "forceful" Lucy Van Pelt, put on display all of the crabbiness and delusions of grandeur of the girl who would have her own queendom, but allowed for an endearing moment when younger brother Linus sings that happiness can also be having a sister.
As Linus, Dan Rosales amazed with a toe-tapping version of My Blanket and Me, and Matthew Curiano, as Snoopy, gave it his all in the salute to that beagle's favorite part of the day: Suppertime. Joey Dippel gave the appropriate dab of seriousness to his turn as Schroeder, dismissing Lucy's amorous advances while playing Beethoven on a toy piano. As Charlie Brown's younger sister, Sally, Clare Howes Eisentrout shined in one of the newer numbers, My New Philosophy.
Director Victoria Bussert kept the nimble ensemble on its toes, and gave the show's final and most famous song, "Happiness," room to breathe.
Good grief, indeed!
Late afternoon performances of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" continue at the Weston Rod and Gun Club through Saturday, July 8th. For tickets, call (802) 824-5288 or go on-line at westonplayhouse.org.