“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Soars at Imagination Stage

By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

(L-R) Michael J. Mainwaring as Schroeder, Erin Weaver as Sally, Christopher Michael Richardson as Charlie Brown, Joe Mallon as Snoopy, Awa Sal Secka as Lucy, and Harrison Smith as Linus in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Do we really need yet another version of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”? Yes, if it’s done the way Imagination Stage stages it! I saw the original version of “Charlie Brown” in the late 60’s in Hershey, Pa., of all places. It was so charming and had such catchy music; I sought out the cast recording and learned every song! Loved it! Still do! It was first produced in 1967, then again with lots of revisions in 1999 when it made a star of Kristin Chenoweth.

Joe Mallon as Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Aaron Posner, the brilliant director of this show, has taken another careful look at “Charlie Brown”, trimmed it down a bit for children’s attention spans, and fashioned it into one tightly packed act. He has kept the best bits which will make adults and children happy when they see this show! Plus, the casting is spot on, and these actors can sing–alone, and in glorious harmony! The set by Nate Sinnott is delightfully colorful and the individual pieces are so big you won’t be able to take your eyes off them. Snoopy’s handsome dog house doubles as his Sopwith Camel as he is fighting that awful German, the Red Baron, in his Fokker triplane, and it’s his bed when he’s just lazing around waiting impatiently for his supper dish! Supper dish??? Snoopy can’t just eat like a normal dog, you’ll discover. He has to make a really big PRODUCTION NUMBER out of his dinner time. And Joe Mallon, as Snoopy, brings it home in his big number.

Erin Weaver as Sally Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage. Photo by Margot Schulman.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The cohesive, star-studded cast is superb and Erin Weaver, whom I loved as Alice in Imagination Stage’s “Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure”, is back in fine form in a brittle and hilarious take on Sally. Awa Sal Secka sparkles and shows off her vocal chops as Lucy, but when she’s doling out advice, as she is often want to do, well, you should listen with a grain of salt, as they say. She’s hilarious! And Charlie Brown, played with great self-effacement by Christopher Michael Richardson, also sings his songs very appealingly. Schroeder (Michael J. Mainwaring) and Linus (Harrison Smith) round out the entirely likeable cast.

Awa Sal Secka as Lucy and Christopher Michael Richardson as Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage. Photo by Margot Schulman.

The brightly colored costumes by Kelsey Hunt are adorable, extremely child friendly and great for play! They need to be because Tony Thomas, the choreographer, keeps the Peanuts gang frantically dancing, marching, and running up and down a slide (sometimes with a blanket) while dispatching their words of wisdom and working through their angst as best they can. The music underscoring all this activity is ably provided by Deborah Jacobson at the piano with assists from the cast on various instruments.

Harrison Smith as Linus, Michael J. Mainwaring as Schroeder, Joe Mallon as Snoopy, Christopher Michael Richardson as Charlie Brown, Erin Weaver as Sally, and Awa Sal Secka as Lucy Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage. Photo by Margot Schulman.

All in all, it’s a delightful show and it’s especially nice because you and your children or grandchildren will get to meet or revisit those adorable, loveable Peanuts’ characters. Charlie Brown, it turns out, really is a “Good Man”! Boom.

Performance and Ticket Information:

Weekday performances now through August 12 at 10:30 am; Performances on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 and 4:00 pm; Tickets are $10+; Best for Ages 5 and up. For Tickets: Call 301-280-1660. Running time is about 1 hour 10 minutes with no intermission. Imagination Stage is located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Sara Dudley Brown

Sara Dudley Brown is the Theatre Editor of The Zebra Press. She graduated with a music degree in voice from Rollins College Conservatory of Music in Winter Park Florida. After several years of professional singing and acting (Disney World and The Kenley Theatres as well as voice-over and film here in the DMV area), trying and failing miserably at being Barbra Streisand (the post was already filled), Sara decided to take her lifelong love of music and the theatre to create a profession which would use everything she had learned theatrically and musically over the years—corporate event production and management. She began with department store events, working for the May Company putting on events in 18 stores, and went on to found her own corporate event management company. She recently retired after 30 years of mounting mega events internationally and domestically for some of the world’s top aviation manufacturers. Now Sara is once again using her years of theatrical work as well as her musical training to review Metro Area professional theatre productions for The Zebra Press. She thinks this is a much more sane way to live and never tires of the excitement of a theatre opening!

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