Happiness is … putting the right show and the right cast together on the right stage. There is a marvelous production of the Broadway hit musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” playing through June 21 at the Gloucester Stage Company.
Happiness is … putting the right show and the right cast together on the right stage.
There is a marvelous production of the Broadway hit musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” playing through June 21 at the Gloucester Stage Company. Kicking off its 30th anniversary season with this little gem of a show, the theater has picked a winner to celebrate Gloucester’s Pathways for Children, the leading provider of programs for children on Cape Ann. Local benefactors have subsidized free tickets for many area children through Pathways and other organizations.
The show has been well cast with polished professional singer/actors, and director Scott LeFeber uses the intimate stage nicely for this family show. The little theater seats the audience on three sides of the projecting stage, so every seat in the house is close to the action.
The show consists of clever one-liners on the tribulations of childhood and dog-hood, short skits, and many wonderful songs. Everyone in the cast sings well, although Steven Gagliastro would best be described as an actor who can also sing.
Stoic and subtly hopeful as Charlie Brown, Gagliastro has an intense face and can certainly sell a song. He’s a good comic, doing well with bits like the infuriating kite, the little red-haired girl, and sticking his head inside a paper bag or into his big empty mailbox on yet another valentine-free Valentine’s Day.
“Hello – lo – lo – lo,” says Gagliastro. “Nothing echoes like an empty mailbox.”
Mary Callanan is a hoot as Lucy van Pelt. Her vivid face alternates scowls with a larger than life smile as she interacts with the audience. She uses her marvelous big voice to nail hilariously ear-shattering high notes during “Schroeder,” her first solo in the show, cleverly set to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and “played” by Schroeder on his toy piano.
Callanan has real panache as the bossy and crabby Lucy, nailing really high notes, but also capable of growling a baritone “Arghhhh” from backstage or acing nasty one-liners like, “Well, what’s Socrates got to do with it, huh? Who was she anyway?”
As Beethoven’s number one fan Schroeder, Arlo Hill brings a powerful, clear and beautiful baritone to the show, no doubt honed by his past opera and operetta roles. He does a spirited job on “Beethoven Day,” backed by well-performed harmonies from the cast and snippets of Beethoven symphonies.
Kate Mulholland as Sally gives a nicely textured comedy performance, shows off a splendid big singing voice, and dances up a storm in a dream sequence as Linus’s blanket. The audience gives her rousing applause for her combination of comic monologue and spirited singing in “My New Philosophy,” one of several songs that were added into the 1967 musical for the 1999 Broadway revival.
David Sharrocks as Snoopy has terrific doggy movements and a grand tenor that ranges from mellow to powerful. He ends his first solo with a nice one-octave howl, and his rendition of “Suppertime,” in which he channels Godfather of Soul James Brown, is an act two highlight.
David Krinitt makes a loose and lanky Linus, using his long arms and legs well in “My Blanky and Me.” He has a wonderful face for comedy, and makes a convincing intellectual kid.
In a score full of wonders, a high point is “A Book Report on Peter Rabbit.” This extremely clever contrapuntal quartet shows how each cartoon character copes with the dreaded book report assignment. Pragmatic Lucy counts the words she has spit out, Schroeder sneaks a book on Robin Hood that he really likes into his report, Linus recounts the deep psychological truths behind the story, and Charlie Brown rationalizes his hopeless procrastination in attempting the report in the first place.
The cast is solid on the harmonies here, as they are throughout the show. Kudos to music director Michael Kreutz, who also provides fine piano work as the show’s tuneful score incorporates frisky and eccentric piano bases for its clever songs.
Here is a rare chance to see a quality production of this clean family musical at a location near you.Interested?
Gloucester Stage Company is located at 267 East Main St., Gloucester. There is a wide choice of performance days and times. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. June 10-13, and June 17-20. Saturday matinees are at 3 p.m. on June 13 and June 20. Sunday matinees are at 4 p.m. on June 14 and June 21.
Special youth ticket prices for all performances are $15 for children 12 and under, and $25 with a student ID. Adult ticket prices are $37 for all performances, and senior citizen tickets are $32 for all performances. A limited number of discount tickets are available to Cape Ann residents. For all Wednesday and Thursday evening performances, residents can purchase half-price tickets for $18.50 with a proof of Cape Ann residency.
For reservations or further information, call the Gloucester Stage box office at 978-281-4433 or visit online at www.gloucesterstage.org.