With all of the hustle and bustle that is involved in being a Wes student, sometimes we just need to sit back and laugh at how dramatic our lives are. If anyone is looking for a good opportunity to do just that, then go see Second Stage’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” The show is a perfect example of the mundane things that college students go through every day. The ages of the characters are not clear (though they can be assumed to be young), thus making the story more relatable. It might just be making fun of the everyday lives of college students, but I’ll let you guys be the judge of that.
I was lucky enough to see a preview of the musical this past Tuesday night. The show, directed by Johnny LaZebnik ’16 in his directorial debut, was just what I needed on a weeknight. For the hour and a half that I was in the audience, I was fully entertained, laughing at the ridiculousness of the characters’ problems. LaZebnik explained the essence of the show perfectly.
“I wanted to pick something that was light-spirited and manageable and adorable,” Lazebnik said.
For those of you who might have forgotten the stars of the Peanuts series, there’s Charlie Brown (Max Luton ’17), who just doesn’t seem to have anything going for him. Then there’s his younger sister Sally (Jessica Perelman ’17), who seems to get upset over the littlest things. Next, there’s Lucy (Beanie Feldstein ’15), who is sassy and demanding. She has a younger brother, Linus (Nick Martino ’15), who just can’t seem to let go of his blanket. Then there’s Schroeder (Liam Tran ’17), who is just in his own little musical world. Lastly, there’s Snoopy (Tess Jonas ’15), who has frequent inner dialogues about what it means to be a dog.
Personally, I can easily think of people in my life that fit each of these character descriptions. It’s just as easy for me to relate to each character. There were multiple times in the show where I just sat back, stunned, because what they were saying hit so close to home. One particular moment was when Charlie Brown was thinking out loud: “I wonder if anyone would miss me if I don’t get out of bed.” There was another moment later: “It’s hard on a face when it gets laughed in.”
A less philosophical reason to see the show is because of the excellent acting, singing, and choreography (the latter two thanks to music director Matt Leibowitz ’14 and choreographer Rebecca Hutman ’17). Even the set design and props are fantastic, thanks to designers Anthony Dean ’17 and Sarah Corey ’15. Everything is so simple and clean: it looks like something right out of the pages of the “Peanuts” strip, from Snoopy’s house to the inventive representation of Woodstock. What’s even better is that the actors know what to do with it. We are not seeing a play put on by talented actors: we are seeing a glimpse into the lives of the “Peanuts” gang.
“They are the most talented cast; I love them so much, and they’re all geniuses,” LaZebnik said.
It seems like a hefty statement, but I can see where he’s coming from. The cast definitely doesn’t disappoint.
“I think Charlie Brown is 90 minutes of pure silliness,” Feldstein said. “It’s always fun to watch people have fun on stage, and we are most definitely having fun.”
I know that I had fun while watching it. One particular song that had me bouncing in my seat was Schroeder’s “Beethoven’s Day.” Linus’ “My Blanket and Me” also had me moving, but because I was hysterically laughing. It was a love song between Linus and his blanket. Ridiculous, but also something that we can relate to: there’s an object from my childhood that I don’t really want to part with even now. The show reminds us all that we’re all young at heart. We’re even encouraged to engage with this part of us head-on; there’s a little bit of audience interaction during “Beethoven’s Day” and “Little Known Facts,” so you may become part of the show.
“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” shows its audience that it is O.K. to sit back and laugh. Just laugh at the fact that we get mad that our jump ropes break; laugh at the fact that some boy doesn’t like us back. In the end, we will be O.K.
So, if any of you are looking for a fun thing to do tonight (Friday, March 28th), or tomorrow (Saturday, March 29th), head on out to the WestCo Café at 8 p.m.