You’re a good man charlie brown brings a good time to stage center theatre

Melissa Brand

Photo by Melissa Brand

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown jump-started the 2012-13 theatre season at the Stage Center Theatre earlier this month at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU).  Five shows ran over four days, from October 10 to 13. The set was simple with Snoopy’s doghouse, Charlie’s mailbox, Schroeder’s piano, four stage boxes and an occasional park bench. The costumes were typical Charlie Brown from Charlie’s trademark yellow shirt with a zigzag black stripe, to Linus and his blue blanket. However, if you weren’t familiar with the characters, you may not have realized Snoopy was a dog, as he was missing his floppy ears. The costumes, makeup and hair were well done and really reflected the characters that many remember from childhood.

This musical tells the story of a day in Charlie Brown’s life through several short scenes and musical numbers. Charlie Brown was played by Isaac Samuelson who did a good job of capturing Charlie’s true personality. His pal Snoopy, played by Jill Matel, did a great job trying to steal the show with his (her) lively songs and wild doggie dances.  Other friends included Andrew Berlien as Linus, Arin Mulvaney as Lucy, Ellen Cribbs as Sally and Jesus Matta as Schroeder.  Charlie and his friends take the audience through his struggles with everything from book reports, redhead girl issues and kite flying, to learning that it is okay to be Charlie Brown. Lucy, traditionally the dominant female character, seemed overshadowed by Sally. Sally was loud and funny and provided the audience with many laughs.

The cast was joined by an ensemble made up of Sarah Beckette as Marcie, Nickolena Sellen as Peppermint Patty, Michael Slas as Pig Pen and Lily Stephens as Frida. The ensemble did a great job making the audience laugh with small talk and funny dances during their scenes and especially between scene changes.

The first act kept a good pace and had the audience laughing. Later in the show however, it seemed to lose a bit of steam during part of Lucy’s scene, to the point of wondering when the play would be over. The energy picked back up again and Charlie and his friends were able to end on a high note when Charlie realizes that he IS a good man after all. Although there was a slower point, overall, the show had lots of laughs and energy.

The play was directed by NEIU alum and instructor Lisa Cantwell who has directed other projects such as, “How He Lied to Her Husband,” “Totally RED!,” “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” “The Love for Three Oranges,” “The Odd Couple” and “A Toby Show.”

Next on the Stage Center Theatre calendar is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde directed by NEIU instructor, Dan Wirth. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde opens November 15, 2012.