There are some things that just make you feel really, really good, no matter what else is happening in your life or in the world. Mile Square Theatre’s production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is one of those things.
It’s February, it’s gray, it’s cold, and our nation’s politics are – to be kind – spreading insomnia, yet Mile Square Theatre has created a moment for kids of all ages to laugh, clap, reminisce, and reflect.
Based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, the amazing comedic musical features the whole gang and all their goofy, endearing and oh-so-confounding quirks: Lucy is the original queen of snark, hopelessly in love with piano prodigy Schroeder, who doesn’t give her the time of day; perfectionist Sally mocks, but loves, blanket-toting Linus; Snoopy is in the doghouse (and on top of it), and the “blockhead” himself, Charlie Brown, is in rare form, be it on the pitcher’s mound or pining for the Little Red Haired Girl.
The show is, simply, non-stop joy.
The actors — Mikey LoBalsamo, Marcus Beckett, Rachel Eddy, Chris Goodrich, Claire Rea and Brandon Santoro — are a delight: Precise, vibrant and full of wonder. The set is simple, with bright, distinct colors that remind you of the nameless Peanuts town you’ve known since you were a drooling toddler. The music is familiar and uplifting and the choreography – by Sarah Weber Gallo – uses movement and meaning to pop every moment right off the stage.
In many fantastic ways, this is a living version of them famous comic strip. Human, three-dimensional characters issue the ideas and ask the questions which were constrained by the two-dimensional black and white newspaper page. The performers – with the help of director Mary Catherine Burke — give life to the flat images, letting us feel what Charles Schultz must have thought when he first put pen to paper.
But You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is more than just a live action comic strip. Using brief scenes from the lives of the Peanuts gang, the show is a virtual jazz performance. There are solos, ensemble pieces and plenty of reasons to laugh, clap and – for some of the younger audience – go berserk with excitement. Why not? It’s Peanuts!
Yes, this is a show that kids will love, but it’s not just a children’s show. It is family theatre. There is truly something for everyone. There’s music and jokes, smiles and silliness, nostalgia, crabbiness, and even some dashes of philosophy. Whether you’re five or 75, you can grab whatever you want and leave the rest to whoever filling out your aisle in the theatre’s packed house.
Calvin & Hobbes always gets credit for being the comic strip for adult minds (and rightly so). We forget, however, just how deep and touching Peanuts can be. While it’s consistently fun and funny, we can recognize that there’s an awkward, bald kid seeing a psychiatrist, a young boy carrying a security blanket spouting philosophy, and a dog who fantasizes about an unwinnable air battle against Germany’s Red Baron. That’s some heady stuff, but the comic strip always delivered those adult situations hidden behind a decidedly childlike sense of wonder and joy. So, too, does Mile Square Theatre’s You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
I guess what I’m saying is: I loved it. And you will, too.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, presented by Mile Square Theatre
Recommended for all ages
1400 Clinton St., Hoboken
Fridays @ 7 p.m., Saturdays @ 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Sundays @ 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Feb. 26.
Tickets are $30 ($15 students & seniors) at milesquaretheatre.org or 201-683-7014.
Jeff Kreisler is an author, comedian and insomniac from cold, grey Hoboken who wants to filibuster the Red Baron