Energetic ensemble, excellent understudy bring happiness to audience in Annandale’s ‘Charlie Brown’


April 26, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Maggie Hardy, a student at Hayfield Secondary School , reviews “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” performed by Annandale High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

 “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown,” Lucy said sweetly as the curtain closed on Annandale High School’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and the audience whole-heartedly agreed. Originally a concept album based on characters from the “Peanuts” comic strip created by Charles Schultz, the songs melded into a musical production and opened Off-Broadway in 1967, running for 1,597 performances. The show was later revived in 1999, winning Tony awards for performances from Kristen Chenoweth as Sally and Roger Bart as Snoopy. The musical doesn’t exactly have plot-driven action; rather, it’s a series of vignettes with songs to accompany the sweet and simple moments between the characters.

Andy Riddle put on a truly wonderful performance as Charlie Brown, especially considering he only had four days of rehearsal after jumping in as understudy at the last minute. His vocals were spot-on, and he really captured the essence of the classic Charlie Brown: reserved, thoughtful, simple. Another stand-out performance came from Deanna Gowland as everyone’s favorite pup, Snoopy. Her talents showed through her delivery, her voice, and even an awesome dance break.

The ensemble as a whole really stayed true to the feeling and heart of the “Peanuts” cartoon and comics, performing admirably. Each performer emulated the simplicity and honesty of the show and brought it into their performances. All of their commitment to their individual characters and the overall show was very clear to the audience, and the energy never faltered through the duration of the show. Also notable is how beautifully their voices meshed as an ensemble, while still being impressive individually.

The tech for this show, like the musical itself, was sweet and simple. The set effectively mimicked the setting of the comics, and the use of the whole stage (and even the house at a few moments) was executed nicely. Such details as oversized props, including a giant pencil, a huge remote, and Linus’s signature blue blanket really made the age of the characters more believable alongside the performer’s portrayals. Although there were some sound issues, the cast worked through them with grace and style.

All in all, Annandale’s performance of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was charming, and a true joy to watch. At the end of the show, the characters all come together to sing Happiness, in which they proclaim that happiness is many things, including “two kinds of ice cream,” “getting along,” and “anything and anyone that’s loved by you.” Happiness also includes seeing such a sweet performance, and really enjoying the show. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown!

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