Review: Free performances of Charlie Brown at Shoreline City Hall - bring your lawn chair and enjoy the fun

Friday, August 11, 2017

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
Based on the Comic Strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz
Added dialogue by Michael Mayer
Added Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Scott Charles Francis
Conductor /Musical Direction by Michelle Choate
Vocal Direction by Jordyn Meeker
Stage Management by Margaret West

Aurora Theatre Company
August 10 – 26, 2017
Shoreline City Hall Outdoor Amphitheatre
Tickets are free of charge and reservations can be made at Brown Paper Tickets 

Review by Doug Gochanour
Photos by Steven H. Robinson

It's a cruel irony that when we're young, we often wish to be older, and as we actually become older, we may long to be younger once again. The youthful audience members may relate to many of the stories portrayed here. We older kids can revisit the laughter induced by these humorous cartoon moments.

As a popular comic strip based musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is produced by Aurora Theatre Company, and is part of “Celebrate Shoreline.” It is another success for Director Scott Charles Francis. This free event provides community residents with an opportunity to enjoy excellent live theatre, virtually in their own back yard.

What other theatre venue would encourage its guests to come early and bring picnic food, wine, blankets, and lawn chairs? This is the fourth summer production on the Shoreline City Hall outdoor amphitheatre stage.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy on his doghouse

A bit of Shoreline is transformed into a comic strip appearing stage. It includes a simple background of painted trees, clouds, and the sun. The few, but effective objects include a bench, 4 stools, a baby Baby-Grand piano, and a doghouse. Turning this all into a remarkable production, there are 6 cast members, a live orchestra, and a host of crewmembers to insure that costumes, set, sound, lighting, and every little detail are all just right. Doing this outdoors presents additional challenges. The entire production team is to be commended for their excellent work.

Talented young actors each contribute their skills at dancing, singing and acting to bring the characters to life. Charlie Brown (Brandon Haddix) is suffering from self-doubt, and is searching for happiness that seems to elude him at every turn. He recognizes his lack of achievement in things like flying kites, playing baseball and football, and talking to the girl with red hair.

Lucy (Hannah Knapp-Jenkins) points to Charlie and tells Linus (Noah Bruckshen), “He has a face with Failure written all over it.” When Charlie come to Lucy for 5 cents worth of psychiatric help, she tells him to list all of his faults. If only she had known to suggest positive self-talk, Charlie might have slashed through the unfortunate permanence of negative reinforcement. But that might have ruined the humor of the moment.

Life lessons abound throughout the interchange among characters. Fifty years have gone by since the musical first appeared. It still delights audiences with its whimsical vignettes and character-centric musical numbers. It still aspires to provide laughs and some enjoyable music, with a touch of thought provoking along the way.

Schroeder, his piano, and Lucy

The other characters add a lot of fun to the show. Sally (Kaelyn Barnes) seems like she could become an attorney or a politician, or perhaps a professional rabbit chaser. She offers wisdom and caring for her brother, as well. Schroeder (Phillip Meader Yetter) is in love with playing his piano. Lucy loves to be with him. Snoopy (Karin Terry) demonstrates an instinct for physical comedy, as well as vocal prowess.

Bring the family and come enjoy the fun. Find out if Charlie Brown can find the self-acceptance and the happiness he desires.

Cast of Charlie Brown
Photo courtesy Aurora Theatre
Back row - Brandon Haddix, Noah Bruckshen, Hannah Knapp-Jenkins 
Front row – Phillip Meader Yetter, Karin Terry, Kaelyn Barnes.


LM August 11, 2017 at 3:16 PM  

It was a great performance by all .... fun, relaxing venue. Perfect evening.

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