You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Bloomington Civic Theatre

Kitty Rogers O'Brien

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Bloomington Civic Theatre $12-$28. 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington 952.563.8575.
Through February 12.

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I grew up with Peanuts, from reading the daily strips to memorizing the dog-eared anthologies we had at home. I liked the humor and identified greatly with poor Charlie Brown (being an awful baseball player probably helped). As an adult, I can see the intriguing mix of simplicity and sophistication Charles Schulz wove into these characters, a mixture clearly on display in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Flying Foot Forum's Joe Chvala brings a delightful touch to the direction and especially the choreography, giving the audience plenty of rewards for careful viewing. On a set (designed by Robin McIntyre) that beautifully reflects Schulz's simple style, six actors take on iconic characters: sad Charlie Brown, bossy Lucy, intellectual Linus, angry Sally, Beethoven-obsessed Schroeder, and carefree Snoopy. The show, a revision of the 1967 original off-Broadway hit, mixes jokes culled from that era and songs based on iconic moments or the characters' traits. So Lucy gives some quick and cheap (only 5 cents) therapy to Charlie Brown, Snoopy tangles with the Red Baron, and they lose a baseball game in heartbreaking fashion. Chvala and the cast artfully balance the material's low-key nature with musical theater's natural tendency to make things "big." The cast is more than up to the challenge, led by Adam Qualls's pitch-perfect Charlie Brown and Colleen Somerville's feisty Lucy. Tyler Michaels brings a lovely physicality to Snoopy, shifting from dog to human to dog again in a breath, and proving that his strong performance as the title character is last year's Bat Boy: The Musical was no fluke.

 
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