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The Daily Tar Heel

‘You're A Good Man Charlie Brown’ successfully brings Peanuts comics to life

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the music director and which character Shannon Gallagher played. Elizabeth Carbone is the music director, and Gallagher played Lucy. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error. 

Company Carolina's "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown"

Saturday at 7 p.m.

4 stars

Company Carolina’s production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” a musical adaptation of the Peanuts comics directed by Christian Payne, brought a charming combination of colorful characters and design elements to Historic Playmakers Theatre this weekend.

Actors enthusiastically portrayed 5-year-old cartoon characters, managing to convey the bubbly energy of their ages as well as the iconic personalities of the Peanuts gang. Jonathan Scott, an exchange student from Northern Ireland, played the title role of Charlie Brown remarkably realistically, bringing a delightfully awkward and uncertain posture to the character and cracking the audience up with his mopey cynicism. Shannon Gallagher was also a consistent crowd favorite with her energetic, hilariously crabby portrayal of Lucy.

Soliloquies from prominent characters were a highlight of this production. Scott’s commentary on how terrible lunchtime is, as well as Carolina Grace Kennedy’s brazen complaint to her teacher about the ‘C’ she received on her coat-hanger sculpture, had the audience in stitches. Will Foos was a consistent comedic gem as Linus, Lucy’s overly-cerebral little brother, and some of the moments between him and his blanket were the most hysterically cute in the show. Interactions between Charlie Brown and Snoopy, played by Casey Cleland, and between Lucy and Schroder, played by Alex Herzing, were likewise funny and touching in equal measure.

The set was designed by Andrew Jones in a deliberately cartoonish, 2-D style, and cleverly painted by Eve von Bleyle to look like something straight out of a comic strip. This cartoonish effect was complemented by bright, multi-hued costuming by Megan Rutherford, with bold patterns reminiscent of the comic. Lighting, designed by Ethan Carleton and Tim Wahl, was equally colorful, and added immensely to the dance breaks and major music numbers. The choreography was cleverly whimsical, and music direction by Elizabeth Carbone struck a nice balance between realistic simplicity and pretty harmonies.

The major drawback of this production was the lack of a full orchestra. There were many times when the pared down orchestration detracted from the energy of a number and left an actor almost unaccompanied when the sound was noticeably unbalanced.

Regardless of the sound issues, the cast fully engaged the audience for the majority of the show. A chorus of “awwww”s was a common reaction to the script’s tender moments, and slapstick antics as well as witty jokes were met with hearty laughter and applause. The show ended on a high note, closing to a standing ovation.

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