Charles Schulz’s classic comic strip has been called the “great American unsuccess story” — the Mechanicville Jr/Sr High School Drama Club production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” was anything but.
This past weekend the Drama Club’s players put on three shows of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, a musical adaptation of Schulz’s strip. The story follows the lives of Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they run into various school, life, kite, girl, dog…well what seems like every sort of problem under the sun; while also touching on themes like anxiety, loneliness, cruelty, despair that Schultz’s delivers with dry wit. The play perfectly encapsulates Schultz’s voice– from his humor to each individual character’s traits that made them endearing in the first place.
Which, of course, is one of the big standouts of the production. Each performer plays his or her part deftly, bringing the characters to life and off the funny pages. Whether it was James Carola as everybody’s favorite curmudgeon, Charlie Brown, with his balance of hopelessness and hopefulness; Andrea Timbone as the bossy, crabby, know-it-all Lucy Van Pelt; Kyle Pratt as the blanket-toting, juvenile intellectual and Charlie Brown’s best friend, Linus; Ravin Berzona as the off-kilter sister of Charlie Brown, Sally; Nick Dubios as the aloof, piano-playing, Beethoven superfan, Schroeder; Jordan Craft brings a new take on Snoopy, complete with sidekick Woodstock played by Alyssha Gorrah, one that is a bit more talkative and prone to singing but still unmistakably the iconic dog that everybody knows. Each student was able to embody the characters that have been entertaining people for over fifty years.
“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” isn’t just the name of the play but also the opening number and the start of a great string of musical moments. Not only did the students excel in their performances, but also in the musical numbers as well. One scene in particular takes place during glee practice: the gang comes in bickering with one another and when the practice begins, the bickering begins once again. Interspliced in the song is prickly jabs, confusion, and frustrating questions. They soon drive each other away leaving a bemused Schroeder and Snoopy “singing” or I should say rhythmically howling. The group doesn’t drop a comedic beat and it flows seamlessly.
Let’s not forget it’s not just the performers that bring the play to life, but those behind the scene as well — whether it be technical crew like lights and sound, or the students who put in the work and dedication in recreating iconic images from the Peanuts’ world, like Snoopy’s doghouse or the wall where the gangs ponder over life, the universe, and everything. Also, located in the lobby were a line of Peanuts-themed snacks, with all proceeds going straight back into Drama Club to help fund future productions.
Unlike Charlie Brown’s baseball skills, or his kite skills, or well almost everything he attempts to do, the students who put together “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” did it with success. Funny and heartfelt, the play captured what made these characters dearly remembered for all these years.