The Washington Post

Solid sound, clever oversized set, energetic cast in JEB Stuart School’s 'You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’

Hillary Leersnyder, Blythe Holmes, Kelly McNesby, Deanna Leersnyder, Kaia Dunne, Ali Cheraghpour, Sam Williams, Sarah Rubin, Karen Whitlock, Elizabeth Burr, Abby Stewart, Angela Leersnyder, and Aria Nawab (David Mosher)

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

Marielle Burt, a student at McLean High School , reviews “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” performed by JEB Stuart School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Straight from the pages of the Sunday Comics, Charlie Brown and his dynamic gang of little kids with big personalities take the stage at J.E.B. Stuart High School with all of the animated charm of their original, two-dimensional medium, in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Inspired by one of the most popular comic strips of all time, “Peanuts,” created by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, this adorable musical comedy was written in 1967 with book, music, and lyrics by Clark Gesner.  “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is renowned for its 1999 Broadway revival featuring Anthony Rapp as Charlie Brown, as well as Kristin Chenoweth as Sally and Roger Bart as Snoopy. Both Chenoweth and Bart earned Tony awards for their distinguished performances. Evocative of comic strip style, the show is a series of independent vignettes depicting the trials and tribulations of the irresistibly cute single-digit tykes. From Snoopy’s whimsical dreams of being a fighter pilot to Lucy’s stubborn aspiration to be a queen, this musical makes audiences smile with nostalgia at the easy bliss of childhood. 

As the best-loved misfit in history, Sam Williams perfectly captured the endearing, boyishness of the “good man” he played. Through his shy smile when dreaming of his crush, “the little red-headed girl,” to his unyielding determination to fly a kite, Williams embodied the purity of heart that makes Charlie Brown a universally adored pop culture icon. Additionally, in a cast of performers who at times struggled with the consistency of their vocals, Williams’ superb voice carried the show. His animated expressions and ability to engage the other actors multiplied the already ample enthusiasm of the production.

The supporting cast was brimming with energetic performances. Sally Brown, played by Elizabeth Burr, proved a stupendously sassy sister. She radiated child-like curiosity and showed fantastic merit in her ability to portray a young character as she flounced about the stage teasing her older brother with a self-satisfied grin. Aria Nawab, as the world’s youngest Beethoven fan, Schroeder, had a gravitational stage presence, bolstered by his pure vocals and genuine reactions to other actors. His poignant comic timing when he was interacting with the equally hilarious Lucy (Blythe Holmes) sent eruptions of laughter through the audience.

Despite a few shortcomings, J.E.B. Stuart’s technical elements contributed to a cohesive production and helped create Charlie Brown’s comic strip world on the stage. The chromatic, oversized set pieces gave the illusion of the children’s small size and added to an atmosphere of fun. The sound was impressively consistent throughout the production, expertly capturing the vocals of the performers.

In a production overflowing with imaginative fun, J.E.B. Stuart High School showcases this favorite American comic strip as an innovative and entertaining musical that left audiences with wide smiles.


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