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You're a Good Man Charlie Brown Review

Address: 835 College Avenue @ Sir Francis Drake Blvd - James Dunn Theatre
Kentfield, CA 94904
Phone: 415-485-9385

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown—Life Lessons from Kids at COM

Appearing in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the Musical" at College of Marin are (l. to r.) Theo Evans as Schroeder, Dana Cherry as Lucy Van Pelt, Bella Cvengros as Sally Brown, Almendra Benvenuto as Marci, Tiara Mead as Peppermint Patty, Ana Lizama as Little Red Headed Girl and Lucas Evans as Linus Van Pelt.

Review by Judith M. Wilson
Photos by Robin Jackson

Dana Cherry as Lucy, Lucas Evans as Linus and Isaak Heath as Charlie Brown

A kite caught in a tree, unrequited love and the never-ending plague of self-doubt might spoil anyone’s day. But the unwavering loyalty of friends brings solace, and everyone’s happy in the end in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” the sweet musical comedy currently playing in the James Dunn Theatre at the College of Marin.

Members of the small cast, under the guidance of veteran director James Dunn, turn in polished performances. Portraying six-year-olds could be a challenge for young adults, particularly tall ones, but the actors capture the nuances and spirit of the characters. Izaak Heath (an impressive King Lear last season) plays Charlie Brown and captures his sadness and disappointment through body language and sighs when things don’t go right, whether it’s missing a chance to talk to the Little Red Headed Girl or missing a ball in an important game. Dana Cherry as a bossy Lucy Van Pelt stomps across the stage and tries to figure out whether she’s really crabby, and Bella Cvengros (Ross Valley Players’ HMS Pinafore) portrays Sally Brown (right), who always knows exactly the way things should be and gets angry and frustrated when events don’t live up to her expectations.

Nicholas Schwager (King Lear) as Snoopy (left) has some great dog moves, whether it’s his musing on a canine’s life or the fantasy of going aloft to fight the Red Baron. Theo Evans plays Schroeder, who sits at the piano intently concentrating on his music to avoid engaging with Lucy, and his brother Lucas Evans (King Lear) shows the inner conflict that Linus Van Pelt experiences when he tries to leave his beloved blanket behind, but just can’t.

Ana Lizama as the Little Red Headed Girl doesn’t have any lines, but she sits on a bench swinging her legs, oblivious to Charlie, in a perfectly childlike way that says it all. Tiara Mead (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) plays Peppermint Patty, and Alemendra Bevenuto (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) is Marci, and although they don’t have speaking roles, they sing and are important to the action in scenes that are classics from cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts repertoire.

Songs such as Little Known Facts and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, are highlights. Musical director Paul Smith provides accompaniment on piano, with Paul Aubert on double bass and Jake Gale on reeds, percussion and keyboard.

The set, by designer Ronald Krempetz, is simple but effective, with a backdrop consisting of a panel reminiscent of a comic strip, which changes to suit the scene. Properties, by designer Marguerite Finney, include Schroeder’s piano, Snoopy’s doghouse and Lucy’s psychiatrist’s booth—complete with the requisite “The doctor is in” sign. Costumes, by Patricia Polen, and hairstyles just like those in the comic strip complete the picture.

“It’s a Good Man, Charlie Brown” made its debut in 1967 with original music and lyrics by Clark Genser, so it’s now 50 years old, but it doesn’t seem dated. Rather, it’s a charming story with diverse personalities, the power of friendship and the importance of the little things that can make one happy. As the kids in the Peanuts gang face the ups and downs that come with learning about life, they convey a sense of innocence that’s a refreshing break from a complicated world. And that makes it an entertaining evening for everyone.

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, and at 230 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. The show is 90 minutes long with one intermission.