By: Eve Amalfitano, Holy Spirit High School, Absecon
CLAYTON, N.J. — Happiness is watching a high school performance! Clayton High School‘s production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” that ran from March 23-25, allowed people to watch the lovable Peanut characters and their stories come to life through the acting and sets live on stage.
The comical musical “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” written by John Gordon, with music by Clark Gesner and (in a 1999 revision) Andrew Lippa, first premiered in 1967. However, the stories of these characters first appeared in a comic strip by Charles Schultz in 1947 called the Li’l Folks, and was renamed to what people know them by today in 1950: the Peanuts. The musical remains true to the short, whimsical feel of these beloved comics. Instead of one long story, the musical features little vignettes as its scenes, comprising the show of short comical pieces rather than one long plot line.
The small cast of 11 hit the ground running and never stopped. Their high energy kept the audience laughing through each song and scene. The stage crew were right in the action, making changes quickly on stage while blending in with the actors around them.
Each actor took hold of their role and showed people the Peanut characters and all their personalities and quirks. Lorenzo Valles played the Good (but very unlucky) Man himself, Charlie Brown. Lorenzo captured the highs and lows of Charlie Brown’s moods, making the audience see his hard life live on stage. Mikayla Kellum brought Lucy’s (crabby) attitude to life with her powerful voice and big personality.
The supporting cast kept the audience laughing with their enthusiasm and comedic delivery. Liz Hampton captured Linus’ academic attitude with each fact. Briel Davis-McCoy switched between the sweet and sour personality of Sally, showing both sides of the character within every scene and song. And who would Charlie Brown be without his dog Snoopy? William Pedrick gave life to the lovable beagle with his comedic timing and song and dance performances, particularly Suppertime. The cast’s energy never dropped, even when experiencing microphone difficulties. They pushed forward and delivered the show.
Stage Manager Gwen Peters helped create sets and lighting that captured the playful atmosphere of the Peanuts with its bright colors and simplicity. The painted comic strips that hung above the stage throughout the play were fun nods to the original comics. The creativity in showing difficult scenes, such as the Red Baron in the beginning of Act II, provided a fun viewing experience for the audience. Making Snoopy’s dog house move around the stage with a smoke machine and different lighting gave the feel of Snoopy flying through the air as the WWI Flying Ace.
The cast and crew of Clayton High School worked together as a TEAM to put on an enjoyable, comedic show, and “there is no team like the best team” when it came to their performance of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”
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