You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (1967) is a musical adaptation of Charles Schultz’s comic strip that beautifully captures both the humour and the heart of these beloved characters. The Side-By-Side production of this musical, which plays at the Bus Stop Theatre as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, is joyful and heartwarming and showcases real musical theatre talent in this city.
Anders Balderston plays Charlie Brown with beautiful earnestness, oscillating from pure hope to vulnerable heartbreak. Becca Guilderson shines brightly as Sally Brown, capturing with gusto and hilarity the erratic emotions of preschoolers. Marietta Laan nails Lucy’s renowned crabbiness, but is best in the moments where she finds her nuance and humanity. Cat McCluskey brings Snoopy to life with panache and silliness. Dylan Coutts has great musicality as Schroeder and absolutely captures his ego, while Stephen Lando Lahaie brings great sweetness to Linus. Both have room here to play more with their characters being kids and allowing them more moments in which they can let go and have fun.
The show’s greatest moments are when every moment is milked for its ultimate in playfulness and there is an equal balance between the characters’ roles as Philosopher and Child. The direction by Guilderson has a nice sense of arc and concept. A lot is directed immediately to the audience, which can be great for engaging the kids (and big kids) watching, but there’s room here to develop the characters’ interactions with one another. Despite their large, and often manic emotions, these seven characters are best friends and family members, and they are children (and a dog personified as a child), so there is a level of intimacy and comfort and unconditional love that roots them at all times, even when they are being bratty to one another. When this is apparent, as in the songs “Beethoven Day,” and “Happiness” this production soars perfectly. There are also a few issues of pacing, especially with movement, that on Opening were still coming together, but the heart and the energy of the piece is solid, and I think that is what will win over audiences, especially children.
You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown plays at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) at the following times:
Sept 9th : 8:10pm
Sept 10th : 9:50pm
Sept 11th : 8:50pm