Teen critic Curry on ‘Charlie Brown:’ The whole package

Eleven Charlotte-area high school students are competing in the new theater criticism category of the Blumey Awards, the Blumenthal Performing Arts’ annual musical theater awards program (read more about that here.) Each student writes three reviews; the following is one entry:

East Gaston’s production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” has it all: A carefree pooch, domineering schoolgirl, “nervous Nelly” and a blanket-toting child who has never quite outgrown the disgusting habit of sucking his thumb. Yes, “Charlie Brown” is the full package.

It follows the exploits of young Charlie Brown as he struggles with a family-friendly version of depression. Along for the ride are Charlie’s friends Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Sally and his smart-mouthed beagle, Snoopy, who have various adventures of their own.

“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” employs certain special features that help give it a flair almost synonymous with that of the original “Peanuts” cartoon. Those include dancers wearing full-body suits as Linus serenades his beloved blanket and a moving stage that’s executed so well it looks as if it jumped straight from the Peanuts’ comic pages.

East Gaston’s play remains truthful to the classic characters Charles M. Schultz created long ago by including a touch of comedic relief in almost every scene. Whether it was Snoopy dancing a jig about supper time or Lucy telling off Charlie Brown, East Gaston’s production never failed to keep me laughing.

The actors’ portrayals of their characters were impeccable. I was most impressed by Issac Black, whose alternative take on the role of Snoopy was most entertaining to watch. In the “Peanuts” version, Snoopy is a dog and therefore unable to speak; Black’s Snoopy is able to talk. This characteristic allows Black to convey puns more easily and makes the play that much more enjoyable to watch.

With the help of a few hearty laughs, awesome actors, killer special features, and a derisive dog who’ll say anything for a laugh, East Gaston’s “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a hit.