You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown
Winter Park Play House
Based on the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schultz
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gessner
Additional dialog by Michael Mayer
Additional Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Shawn Kilgore and Natalie Cordone
Winter Park Florida
Ah, the literary conceits of the midcentury – first graders who speak with more wit and insight than anyone in Washington today, emoting with an insight into the human condition that is unheard of today. Charlie Brown (Kilgore) longs for the little Red Haired Girl, or to win ONE baseball game or maybe get a kite off the ground. No dice, but his charm lies in that extensive lack of success. As the perennial loser, he analyses the subtext of his existential existence while remaining cute, charming and insightful. He was the epitome of midcentury mass intellectualism, the Everyman whom can never outperform Anyman.
Around Mr. Brown we meet the rest of the Playground Mafia. Younger sister Sally (Molly Anne Ross) adopts to life’s vicissitudes with a song and a smile. His dog Snoopy (Jeffery Correia) and Schroeder (Shonn McCloud) easily master challenging hobbies from classical music to WW1 reenactment. And poor Charlie? He must allow his creator Mr. Schulz to abuse him like a rag doll. Yup, that’s us up there – always outperformed by the amateur and dabbler. There is no justice, only existence. In other words, this is a version of “Waiting For Godot” you would pay to see.
It’s light going here, even by WPPH’s “Be Happy!” programming. While Mr. Brown is abused, he easily moves from disaster to train wreck to apocalypse with a smile and an “Oh Well” shrug. But we know he’ll find his sweet spot someday, and Kilgore has already found his. He looks a bit more Fred Flintstone than Charlie Brown, but his happy demeanor and stirring vocals really lead this show from the “Four Panel Cartoon” to a loving look back at childhood. Cordon’s sassy Lucy gloats over his every failure and represents cruel fate: she dangles success in front of you, but when you reach for it you find she tied your shoelaces together. Mr. Roberts does what he does best – look woebegone but happy, and as the always successful Linus and delivers “My Blanket and Me”. The sneaky star here is Correia’s Snoopy. Using no words but his excellent physicality, he steals many a scene and sings his own praises in “Snoopy.” Supporting the leads we have the sassy Sally (Molly Ana Ross) with her love duet “My New Philosophy.” While we are rapidly approaching the tidal wave of “That Show I Refuse to Name,” this show is a frothy retrospective on one of the most popular comic strips of that golden age of news print.