Friday, April 5, 2019

Charlie Brown is still a good man


Photo: from left - Corissa DeVerse as Lucy, Justine Davis as Sally, Jeff Wallace as Schroeder, Anthony Erickson as Linus, Jake Atwood as Snoopy and Cameron Waters as Charlie, photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis

This is how ‘Peanuts’ should be done
By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, April 4, 2019
from left - Corissa DeVerse as Lucy, Justine Davis as Sally, Jeff Wallace as Schroeder, AQnthony Erickson as Linus, Jake Atwood as Snoopy and Cameron Waters as Charlie, photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis
That’s the way to do it, Centerstage. This is the way “Peanuts” should be produced on stage. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is based on the comics by Charles M. Schulz, adapted for the stage with book and music by Clark Gesner, and directed at Centerstage by Tyler Harr. It is comprised of scenes with music and dance based on many of the popular storylines Schulz employed in his comic strips: Lucy tricking Charlie into falling for the same jokes over and over, Charlie mooning over the little redhaired girl, Snoopy fighting the Red Barron, Lucy swooning over Schroeder’s piano playing. The only thing I missed was Lucy dropping the football seconds before Charlie kicks it.
As with the comic strip, the humor of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown appeals as much to adults than children. (I counted only three young children in the audience opening night, but I suspect many more will flood in with their parents for matinee performances.)
Don't strike out, Charlie Brown. Cameron Waters as Charlie, photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis
Charlie (Cameron Waters) is a loveable and shy kid who can’t seem to do anything right and thinks nobody likes him, when, in fact, everybody loves him and respects him for his sincerity and kindness. One more thing about him is that he never gives up.
Charlie’s little sister, Sally (Justine Davis) is kindhearted and sometimes na├»ve, and can sometimes be manipulative. His pet beagle, Snoopy (Jake Atwood), lives a terrific life of the imagination and has long been one of the most beloved characters in “Peanuts.” Lucy (Corissa DeVerse) is a know-it-all who plays nasty tricks on Charlie and charges five cents for psychiatric advice. Linus (Anthony Erickson) is a blanket hugger, and Schroeder (Jeff Wallace) loves classical music and plays the piano beautifully.
All six cast members are terrific. Waters captures Charlie Brown’s expressions and voice wonderfully. His timing is impeccable. Atwood constantly sends the audience into peals of pooch-inspired laughter and excites with his booming voice — both when singing and when shouting “I’ll get you, Red Baron!” His high-energy and captivating dancing on the jazzy song “Suppertime” are a marvel to behold. I loved Davis’s jerky, puppet-like moves and her little-girl voice, which calls to mind Lily Tomlin’s “Edith Ann.”  Unfortunately, the funny voice makes for difficult enunciation.
The thing that lifts this production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown above expectations is the choreographed dance and other movement (choreography by Rico Lastrapes) against a beautiful wash of colored light against a simple background (Lighting designer Kate Wilson and set by Bruce Haasl).
The director wrote: “With the help of the heartwarming Peanuts Gang, we hope to remind adults how the world worked before money, politics or prejudice, and to provide children with figures that validate them and their youthful experiences.” I think they accomplished that goal.
Congratulations to the cast and crew for an outstanding job of entertaining kids of all ages from pre-school to post-retirement. I highly recommend you do yourself a favor and make the trip to Federal Way to see this wondrous show.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, through April 14, Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way, $29 adults, $25, Seniors, Military: $15; Youth (18-23): $12 17 and younger (plus 5% City of Federal Way admission tax), 253.661.1444, www.centerstagetheatre.com



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