You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown has been a beloved musical since it made its onstage debut in 1967. Taking the best parts of Charles Schultz’s beloved Peanuts comics and dividing them up into individual skits, local theatre group Bare Productions get the ball rolling immediately (in a way that Charlie Brown’s little-league team could only dream of) by bursting into a rendition of the show’s namesake as the lights dim.
The next 90 minutes continue in this energetic fashion, but there are a few stand-out moments in the show – Linus waltzing around with a life-size, anthropomorphic blanket, Charlie Brown receiving surprisingly good advice from Lucy, Schroeder trying to conduct a rendition of Home on the Range while his choir bickers and eventually disperses.
Like all sketch shows, some skits land better than others, but the cast is talented and energetic enough to carry these moments through. In a way, the show’s format sabotages this production somewhat – the funniest moments are when the entire cast is interacting with each other and utilising their excellent chemistry, while the single-line jokes can come off as jarring. And although the live orchestra is a charming addition, it can make lyrics a little difficult to hear – however, it’s important to note that the cast’s ability to sing in a 4-part harmony while running around onstage with the energy of 6 year-olds is very impressive.
Peanuts can often be viewed as an exercise in futility; Charlie Brown never kicks the ball (indeed, Schultz thought it would be unfair to have him do so), Lucy never marries Schroeder, Linus never gives up his blanket. And yet, Bare Productions manages to balance this nihilism with the childhood joy that shrouds Peanuts – the nostalgia for youth and a time in our lives when the biggest worry was whether that little redheaded girl would notice us or not. And, as the cast gather onstage one last time to sing a very touching rendition of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, only the crabbiest amongst us would fail to feel moved.