You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown was an uplifting adventure. The York Theatre Company, for the first time ever, assembled a cast of professional young actors to portray our Peanut friends and they took the performance into their own crafts.
Director Michael Unger sought to pay homage to Schulz’s 17,897 strips with a Peanuts stage designed by Brian Prather. Each element, from the spinning grand piano in the center that held Snoopy’s infamous doghouse to the comic-esque grass drawn on the ground was a scene set within one of Schulz’s mini stories.
Charlie Brown (Joshua Colley) was as we all remember—facing seemingly childish internal struggles that simply grow more complex as we age. Colley’s voice radiated the stage and his well-earned young talent was palpable.
Lucy (Mavis Simpson-Ernst) captivated that big, bold, pushy and psychiatrically-inclined character that resonates with anyone from any culture. Simpson-Ernst commanded the stage with professional ease.
Sally’s (Milly Shapiro) comedic timing was impeccable. Smart, sassy and always prepared with a comeback, Shapiro expertly maneuvered the stage and emulated her character right from one of Shulz’s strips.
Linus (Jeremy T. Villas) dragged his little blanket, shouted wise anecdotes and sucked his thumb in deep contemplation. Villas captured the deceptive depth of his character and graced the audience with a taste of his dancing in “My Blanket and Me.”
Schroeder (Gregory Diaz) was his usual, Beethoven-obsessed self. Diaz’s performance was riddled sarcasm and intelligence. He pulled us all into his musically enchanted world and made me remember that childlike innocence we all face when admiring the greats we one day want to be.
Lastly, Snoopy (Aidan Gemme), was the comedic tie of the show. Gemme’s performance was a cherished hilarity. With well-placed howls and barks, Gemme put his own deviant approach to Snoopy that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The York Theatre Company’s young professional approach is a welcome success. Assembling a cast of multi-cultural and highly versatile actors coupled with expert staging made for an excellent performance. If you are able, take the time to catch You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at The Theatre at St. Peter’s.
Review By: Alex Lipari
Photos By: Sara Krulwich