See your favourite Charles M. Schultz creation in a stage musical
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown—a musical comedy loosely based on the characters in Peanuts, the comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz—is produced by the West Island Theatre Association (WISTA) and premiered Friday.
This musical, written by Clark Gesner, contains no plot. Instead, it’s a series of short scenes that follow the life of Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they navigate their way through childhood.
WISTA has enough cast members that they made two teams to share the performances equally: one red and one blue. If the red cast performs during the afternoon then the blue cast would perform in the evening, and vice versa.
“[Peanuts] is the best known comic strip that’s been around, and this is its 65th anniversary, which is one of the reasons we [WISTA] chose to do this show,” said Robin Kravitz, who played Snoopy as part of the red cast on Friday.
“We all have that kid inside that never really wants to grow up,” said Angela Marino, who plays Lucy Van Pelt. “[Being a kid is] one of the best times of your life—no responsibilities—everything is free and it’s just about having fun. Adults remember that and want to pass that experience on to their kids.” As a whole, the play is fun, touching, and comedic—people of all ages can relate to it in some way.
Ian MacLaren described his character, Charlie Brown, as “a loner with very low self-esteem who is prone to believe everything that people say about him, but particularly … Lucy.” He said he was like that as a child, so he merely uses his memory recall to get into character.
About her extremely outspoken, sassy and bossy character, Marino said some of Lucy’s qualities resonate with her, as she recalls bossing her younger sisters around during her childhood and, like Lucy, receiving some sass back. “Lucy thinks she is perfect until she is told by Schroeder that she is a crabby person and then she realizes that she has to change,” said Marino.
Snoopy—the good-natured, loveable Beagle—provides comfort and support to Charlie Brown. “Pets are a wonderful presence to have,” said Kravitz. “Snoopy is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever played—he is funny, philosophical and dramatic.”
Peanuts, the comic strip, ended in 2000, but the themes it encapsulates continue to resonate with contemporary audiences. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown brings to life these characters, which many parents and grandparents have been telling younger generations about.
The orchestra, conducted by Kiel Howden, is located off-stage and provides a rich music hall sound to the songs without detracting from the action on stage.
The set is very minimalist and reminiscent of comics and crayons. Building blocks are moved around to set the scenes.
WISTA is a non-profit musical theatre company that was founded in 2006. Its mission is to provide an outlet for young adults up to the age of 29 to develop their skills in musical theatre. The company puts on several musicals annually, and volunteers are always welcome.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs until Oct. 24 at the Louise Chalmers Theatre in Pointe Claire. Tickets for students are $20 and are available at wista.ca.