The one based on comic strips?
The obscure musical based on the “Peanuts” comic strips of Charles M Schulz with Book, Music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, has set up camp at the Tabard Theatre in Chiswick this autumn.
Following a sort of day in the life of Charlie Brown he is joined by all the famous comic strip characters, Shroeder, Lucy, Linus, Sally and of course everyone’s famous straight laced dog Snoopy.
The set by Simon Wells is as bright and vibrant as one would expect from a cartoon which only assists the wonderfully accurate costumes in enabling the comic strips to become a reality.
Having a close affinity to this piece from taking the title role at university, this piece is a perfect showcase of Musical Theatre and an evening of light hearted fun for anyone looking for a night of easy listening. The very talented cast, whose credits are very impressive for this tiny pub theatre space, clearly have a lot of fun with their performance where they play out characters of five year olds dealing with themes of love, rejection and psychiatric help.
The ensemble work very well together and sing through some tough vocal performance purely because as an example the close to Act One, “The Book Report” is incredibly complicated with each of the six performers having a different melody line and completely different verse. Performing together and pulling this particular number off left the audience open mouthed and amazed at the vocals they had just witnessed. If you haven’t got that this is a fun piece by now you should really see a doctor for a dose of humour.
Snoopy played by Mark Anderson performed the character just right, his comic timing is wonderfully dry and this dog like characteristics allow him to create the famous dog perfectly. A difficult part to play, he quickly becomes the one character that sympathises directly with the audience that what is being played out onstage is actually a little bit bizarre.
The lisping Linus by Adam Ellis is a delightful performance and upon adjusting to hearing his faux lisp in this role the intellectual four year old has some great one liners and Ellis excels in a wonderfully energetic rendition of My Blanket and Me which included a host of acrobatics in such a small stage.
But naturally and with any production of “Charlie Brown” whether it be a village hall production or the Off Broadway cast of 1999 with Kristen Chenoweth, cast the part of Sally Brown correctly and she will inevitably steal the show. Hayley Gallivan is no exception to this rule and as well as looking perfect in her costume and hair, really commits the role of Charlie Browns younger sister who spends most of her days wanting to excel from a C and in search of a philosophy that suits her. Gallivan’s vocals in the act two opener are superb and you can’t help but be completely engaged by her performance.
I would urge anyone looking for something different in Musical Theatre to go and see You’re a Good man Charlie Brown, particularly as this production has a whole host of talent under the direction of Anthony Drewe, and is a very pleasing evening.