You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
July 29 - August 14, 2011
musical fun for the whole family
Enjoy a day in the life of Charlie Brown and his friends. Based on the cartoon strip by Charles Schultz, this bright and family-friendly musical brings the Peanuts gang to life on stage. Winner of two Drama Desk-Vernon Rice Awards and The Outer Critics Circle Award for Production.
Charlie Brown: Ryan Hancock
Director: Missy Bell
The Leader, July 30, 2011
Charlie Brown Hits Homerun
Saturday, July 30, 2011
The theater advice, “Never work with children or animals,” occurred to me more than once during Bradley Silvestro’s exquisitely timed performance as Snoopy in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” running through August 14 at the Three Notch Theatre in Lexington Park.
Also putting out over-the-top wattage was Stephanie Laut as Lucy, occasionally making the audience forget the play is an ensemble piece.
But then comes one of those fully realized ensemble vignettes, and it’s director Missy Bell who shines. The Newtowne Players’ cast performs exactly as writer Clark Gesner describes the script, “None of the cast is actually six years old. And they don’t really look like Charles Schulz’ “Peanuts” cartoon characters. But this doesn’t seem to make that much difference once we are into the play, because what they are saying to each other is with the openness of that early childhood time, and the obvious fact is that they are all really quite fond of each other.”
Despite confessed misgivings, Bell captured this and directed a wonderfully choreographed (by Michael Bell) and harmonized ensemble that time after time put forth nothing short of perfectly timed trapeze work as the well-casted, poignant comedy of life romped across the stage.
Ryan Hancock as the hapless Charlie Brown lead the team that also included Billy Borst as Linus, Stacey Park as Sally and Tony Oblen as Schroeder. Also of note: Music Director Diane Trautman who kept the occasionally even mad-capped pace perfectly pitched throughout.
The County Times, July 28, 2011
Good Grief! Peanuts Characters Come to Life
By Sarah Miller
The classic Peanuts characters Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, Sally, Snoopy and Charlie Brown are brought to life on the Three Notch Theatre in the Newtowne Players’ ?nal performance of the season — “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” by Clark Gesner.
“I like to think of it like a Pixar movie,” said Ryan Hancock, who plays Charlie Brown.
Like in Pixar ?lms, Hancock said there is a little bit of something for children and adults alike in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Though the actors range in age from high school juniors to college students and graduates and even a mother with children, they have no trouble bringing to life the characters they portray, whose ages range from 5 to 8.
Several times during the play, the children grapple with “adult” topics, like approaching a person they have a crush on, dealing with hard truths about their personalities and negative self image. The actors never seem to forget that they’re playing children, and make the audience believe that children would come to the conclusions the characters come to in the play.
Stacey Park, who plays Sally, said she watched her own young children and how they interacted with their world and each other to get acting advice for her 5-year-old character.
Hancock said the play is a way for the actors to “reconnect to childhood” and get in touch with their inner children. Being in touch with his inner child may be what allows Hancock to dispense sage wisdom, like the fact that peanut butter is the food of loneliness, completely dead-pan, and still be funny.
Of course, the crew keeps the show cheerful with pieces like “Beethoven Day,” when the kids declare a new holiday to be celebrated on Beethoven’s birthday, and “Little Known Facts” when Lucy, played by Stephanie Laut, decides to teach her brother Linus, played by Billy Borst, some basic, if inaccurate, facts of life.
Bradley Silvestro steals the show in his portrayal of Snoopy, whether it be through his antics in the back- ground and chasing rabbits with Sally, or in his solos in “The Red Baron" and “Suppertime.”
The auditions for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” were interesting. Park said she still has “scars on her knees" from the choreography, and each actor had to perform a 24 bar dance and perform solos for the characters they wanted to play. They also ran scenes, and the cast was narrowed down to what it is now.
Director Missy Bell said some of the biggest challenges came not from the songs and choreography, but from the air conditioning not working during one rehearsal, causing them to cancel rehearsals for the night, a power outage on another night and the turning panels that make up the backdrop not working properly, all problems that have been addressed. Hiccups aside, Bell said the rehearsals “went smoothly.”
The actors agree that “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” is a play that will remain relevant in the com- ing years.
“The emotive power behind it is timeless,” said Tony Oblen, who plays Schroeder.
For some of the actors, the play is a way for them to portray characters they a know and love. In Park’s case, she said she has been following Charlie Brown since she was a child, and even had a Peanut’s themed birthday.
“Peanuts has always been a part of my life,” Park said.