Saturday, November 23, 2013

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Wimberley Players, November 15 - December 8, 2013

CTXLT review

by Michael Meigs

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown Wimberley Players TXAs fresh as the ink of the morning paper on a bright fall day, the Wimberley Players' staging of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown is big, bold and beautiful. And so is the cast; director Jim Lindsay has handpicked some of the most attractive talent from the region.

Did you know that this musical by Clark Gesner is approaching its 50th birthday? You'd never know it from this production. The original version was done in 1967, and in 1998 performers using the revised script presented in this Wimberley production took two Tony awards. And Charlie Brown himself, if he weren't ageless, would be almost ready to qualify for Social Security, for Charles Schultz's first four-panel strip featuring him was published on October 2, 1950.

You're A Good Man Charlie Brown Wimberley Players TX
Ryley Wilson (photo: Leanne Brawner Photography)
A musical for six players, presented as a series of lively songs and skits featuring some of the most memorable tropes and plights of the Peanuts gang, the work is a favorite of high schools and amateur groups. Director Lindsay chose to expand the cast by two women to to calibrate the choreography, so Wimberley's augmented edition includes both that little red-headed girl (the fetching Lindsay Katherine Powell) and Kate Clark (Frieda, a fine singer and captain of the dance ensemble).

Schultz drew the comic strip for fifty years, so that tiny community of primary schoolers has a rich and diverse history of incident. The situations onstage are instantly recognizable and bring smiles to faces in the audience. 

 Ryley Wilson in the title role has Charlie's yellow shirt with the zig-zag, a fugitive kite, and that mild, yearning and baffled presence. Kristi Brawner as Lucy van Pelt is adorably heedless, loud and self-certain -- comically capturing childish speech and emphasis with her frequent prolongation of initial consonants ("You're a Buh-LOCKHEAD!")

Part of the pleasure of seeing mature but young actors in these roles is the irony of age difference: grown men are returned to the tentative innocents they once were, while the actresses giving Schultz's girls their endearing brashness are at the same time very attractive young women.

Click to read more at AustinLiveTheatre. . . .

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