Happiness is seeing students perform You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

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Students perform a play that features portrayals of the beloved Charlie Brown characters. Audiences were amused by both the musical and acting abilities of the students.

Hannah Fagen, Editor-in-Chief

Hundreds of young children, teenagers, and even grown adults piled into the auditorium over the course of four days to see the classic musical You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. The Musical Theater department presented the musical over the first weekend in June, and attendees were not disappointed. You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, based on Charles Schulz’s famous Peanuts comic strips, is an ensemble musical depicting a day in the life of Charlie Brown (senior Christopher Falcioni), and his friends Lucy Van Pelt (junior Julia Bain), Linus Van Pelt (sophomore Nate Krantz), Sally Brown (junior Kimberly Suzzan), and Schroeder (senior Jesse Weil), as well as his dog, Snoopy (junior Taylor Eisenberg). The production also includes some of Charlie Brown’s other classmates, Marcie (freshman Sophie Brett-Chin), Peppermint Patty (sophomore Amelia Pacht), and Pig Pen (junior Liam Marsigliano).

Charlie Brown and his friends have a series of adventures and go through several different trials of childhood, including: learning to work on a school project and dealing with your grade (“The Report,” “My New Philosophy”), parting with a childhood toy (“My Blanket and Me”), and learning from your older siblings (“Little Known Facts”).

The production comes from a series of different Peanuts comics, which makes the storyline a little disjointed. While this production was energetic and fun to watch, there wasn’t a strong plot connecting each of the scenes, and, thus, little emotional development.

Some highlights of the musical included the hilarious number “The Book Report,” during which several of the characters scrambled to prepare reports about Peter Rabbit, and Lucy’s adorable innocent flirtation in her number, “Schroeder.” Although the students were each entertaining in their respective roles, Falcioni’s acting was incredibly expressive and Bain’s vocals full and clear, in particular.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, as opposed to many other recent mainstages productions, isn’t a deep, moving, tearjerker, but a fun, lighthearted peek into childhood through the eyes of Schulz’s characters.

The players brought Schulz’s stories to life with excitement and gaiety. Each song and dance included bright, simple choreography, which was almost cheesy at times. The synchronized movements and dramatic poses modeled the text and lyrics, and made the storyeasier to understand for the many young audience members.

The sets literally set the stage for the tone and mood of the performance. Set pieces such as cardboard trees, Schroeder’s pint-sized piano, and, of course, Snoopy’s iconic doghouse, contributed to the show’s childlike, happy-go-lucky feel.

The music was also appropriately simple—instead of the usual full pit orchestra, a piano sat on the corner of the stage, and vocal music director and teacher Mr. John Spiezio III conducted both the accompanist and the cast from a seat right in front of the piano. Stepping away from the norm, Mr. Spiezio actually interacted with the cast members and audience on several occasions. His unexpected little bits surprised the audience, especially when music-loving Schroeder took Mr. Spiezio’s conducting stick to conduct a glee club rehearsal of “Home on the Range,” and Mr. Spiezio left the stage and took a seat next to an unsuspecting little girl.

This production marked the last for two players, Falcioni and Weil.

“Charlie Brown allowed me to spend quality time with a lot of really wonderful people in the theater department who I have grown close to over the culmination of my Schreiber experience,” said Weil. “They have provided me with four years that I always will remember and helped me grow as a performer and as a person. I was really glad to have gotten this last opportunity.”

Although it wasn’t a moving or intellectually stimulating production, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown left audiences happy and singing, while recalling the simpler days of childhood.