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You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown started out as a concept album by Clark Gesner in the early 60s. It later was transformed into an Off-Broadway musical in the late 60s. Originally a series of vignettes with a song thrown at each character, the show was similar to Arthur Whitlaw's Snoopy! The Musical.

Flash forward to 1999, and a new revival production opens on Broadway. Featuring new songs by Andrew Lippa and new dialogue by Michael Mayer, the show - despite its short run - garnered two Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor and Actress, awarded to Roger Bart and Kristen Chenoweth respectively.

Whilst the revival received lukewarm responses, there was overwhelming praise for Ms. Chenoweth's breakout performance as Sally.

In this production - produced by StageBugs Productions, all praise goes Rebecca Symonds as the queen-of-crabbiness, Lucy Van Pelt.

Symonds has managed to find incredible nuance and nails every comedic beat in a script that proves to be rather challenging for the rest of the cast. Her ability to find dramatic moments of light and shade throughout her dialogue and songs, with every bit of clarity and flair, immediately shifts the scene up three levels whenever she enters the stage. Her rendition of "Schroeder" is nothing short of hysterical perfection.

The script (owing to the combination of two authors) is somewhat caught between the worlds of 4-line comic-strip silliness and traditional scenework, which have provided quite the challenge for first-time director Cam O'Reilly. It becomes immediately apparent that Symonds choices are not so much a result of solid direction; rather, her own polished ability to interpret text.

Visually, this production provides a beautiful array of bright comic-book colours. Particular credit must go to the beautiful proscenium arch (set design by O'Reilly) which features a snapshot of each character through the use of coloured spots and stripes. The inclusion of a slide is a beautiful touch. Costumes by Britni Lesli are a delight - with particular props for the gorgeous design of Woodstock (played by the delightful Samantha Stewart).

Led by Matthew Nutley, the five piece on-stage band is solid. Navigating their way through the complex scorings of Gesner and Lippa with ease.

Special mention must go to Bradley Storer as Schroeder for his fantastic rendition of Beethoven Day, with a true "raise the roof" final flourish at the end.


You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is playing at The Alex Theatre, St Kilda until July 2nd. Tickets available here.

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