You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Written on June 1st, 2012

You’re a Good Dog, Snoopy!

As the Boomer generation, we grew up on Peanuts. I read the comic strip in the London Free Press daily, and the colour funnies on Saturday. I watched all the Charlie Brown specials on TV, and I even had various Peanuts collections in book form. When I went on a school trip to Paris, I spent an hour in a bookstore, trying to select a book in French that would help me with my reading skills – I finally came out of the store with “C’est la Semaine Nationale du Chien” featuring Snoopy. When my high school boyfriend (yes, now my husband) worked part time in a grocery store, I made him a collage of Snoopy as the world-famous grocery store clerk.

Stephen Patterson as Snoopy. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

So as a Peanuts aficionado, I went to the Avon Theatre’s opening of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” hoping for a pure, traditional production. We took our seats and Charlie Brown’s teacher, Miss Othmar’s voice told us to turn off our cell phones. At least I think that’s what she was saying — it sounded like “wah-wah-wah…ring-ring…wah-wah”.

Shortly after the show begins, it becomes apparent that it isn’t the Peanuts of the 70’s. The musical, first produced in 1967, was later revived and updated with new songs in 1999. But Stratford Festival’s 2012 version is definitely updated again. I was at first skeptical but as the show progressed, I loved Stratford’s version.

There is still some of the 60’s feel – in fact, when the various cast members come forward in the brightly coloured set to deliver a funny one-liner, it is reminiscent of the joke wall on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.

But Snoopy is brought into the present with an iPad featuring games which we can see on the big screen at the back of the stage. He is also on Snoopbook, and even morphs into Snoop Dog.

And it’s Stephen Patterson’s modern take on Snoopy that steals the show. Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace , with his dog house converted to a Sopwith Camel, fails to bring down the Red Baron. But Patterson certainly brings the house down. He keeps the audience laughing with his comedic interpretation of Snoopy. Snoopy always danced when Charlie Brown brought him his supper dish, but Patterson makes a whole production number out of suppertime, complete with top hat and cane, Al Jolson jazz hands, and at one point, a full gospel choir.

Similarly, the Chasing Rabbits scene is over the top, but it’s all in good fun. Peanuts meets Looney Tunes as Snoopy tries to track rabbits. Patterson is hilarious in all of Snoopy’s forms.

Kevin Yee’s thumb-sucking Linus is adorable, dancing with his beloved blanket, until there are five dancing blankets surrounding him. Andrew Broderick is excellent as Schroeder, both as the Beethoven loving boy rolling his eyes as Lucy, and as the modernized hip-hip Schroeder. Erica Peck is the perfect, crabby Lucy, flirting with Schroeder or giving Charlie Brown psychiatric advice from an updated booth. Amy Wallis’ Sally is cute as she expresses her new philosophy or works on her book report.

Andrew Broderick as Schroeder, Erica Peck as Lucy. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Ken James Stewart as Charlie Brown brings a good voice to the part, but at times seems a little too angry. Here’s where I prefer the traditional Charlie Brown: sad, dejected, depressed and melancholy. When his kite won’t fly, Charlie Brown should be resigned and heave a big sigh, not get mad at the kite. Nevertheless, Charlie Brown garners enough sympathy to make his final compliment, “You’re a good man”, a joyful conclusion to the show.

A series of vignettes and songs about Peanuts’ life, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown is good for all ages, not just those of us who were regular readers of the funny paper. This would be a great way to introduce children to the Stratford Festival, and it is a fun evening with lots of laughs.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown continues at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in repertoire until October 28. Call 1-800-567-1600 or go to for tickets.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Based on “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz
Book, music and lyrics by Clark Gasner
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Musical direction by Laura Burton
Performed by Andrew Broderick, Stephen Patterson, Erica Peck, Ken James Stewart, Amy Wallis, and Kevin Yee.
Avon Theatre, Stratford
May 15 to October 28, 2012
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

One Response to “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” | Add Your Thoughts

  1. Sally Brown is never cute, After all she’s rude, mean and disrespectful to her big brother Charlie Brown who prefers to flirt with her best friend Linus by annoying him calling her sweet babboo at times!

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