By William Wolf

YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN  Send This Review to a Friend

The endearing young performers providing oomph to the York Theatre Company’s revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” are irresistible. Children and adults alike can gain fresh pleasure from this production of the show based on Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip “Peanuts,” with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional msic and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

The idea here is to use a very young cast to conjure the full spirit of Schulz’s characters, giving young audience members the opportunity to see performers closer to their own age. Despite their youth (most from nine to thirteen), the performers come with considerable experience, and it shows. The production generally moves smoothly under the direction of Michael Unger, with music direction by Eric Svejcar and choreography by Jennifer Paulson Lee.

The show brought back memories for me. I saw the 1967 original, with Bob Balaban as a captivating Linus. I remember interviewing him at the time, and of course, Balaban went on to become a distinguished actor, as well as a director, author and producer. I hope at least some of the cast members of this production will go onto greater heights, but meanwhile we can enjoy them at this stage of their careers.

Current audience members will have their favorites. Aidan Gemme is a show-stealer as Snoopy, the lovable dog. With a pair of floppy dog ears, Gemme makes the most of his opportunity, especially when singing “The Red Baron” and “Suppertime.” Jermey T. Villas is especially winsome as the blanket-toting Linus, and he dazzles with some fancy footwork.

Joshua Colley makes an excellent Charlie Brown, the unusual-looking Milly Shapiro provides amusing originality as Sally and Gregory Diaz does well as Schroeder. Mavis Simpson-Ernst as Lucy torments Charlie effectively, sometimes with charm, sometimes more meanly.

The tone of the show mixes naïveté with worldliness, as it should, for the combination gives the show its basic charm. The cast seems to understand this and enjoyably communicates that outlook. I found much pleasure in getting reacquainted with the characters, once again popping out of the strip that has delighted so many fans. At the York Theater at St. Peter’s, 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street). Phone: 212-935-5820. Reviewed June 1, 2016.


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