Felicia Latoya Brown as Lucy is a crabby hoot. Not only is her vocal range impressive, the variety of tones she can get out of a single pitch is worth the ticket price in itself. Her musical explanation to Linus that bugs make the grass grow by tugging on the blades until they’re long is at once completely self-absorbed, bossy and full of sisterly concern. Her comic timing can’t be beat!
Jim Hettler as Linus is the perfect poor, earnest scholar in a savagely crabby world. His voice croons in confident vocal swagger as he insouciantly casts his blanket on the floor and gets almost a full stage away before he cracks and dives for it in a dead panic. And his declamation on the socio-economic implications of Peter Rabbit tops an uproarious production number on the joys of homework.
Craig Hutchings is a fine Charlie Brown. He hits all the expected high notes. His mooning over the little red-haired girl while wearing a paper bag on his head gets your belly and your heart, and his plaintiff cry, “How could there possibly be one more person as totally blah as me?” reminds us all of the sometimes not-so-joyful days of childhood.
But he gives something more. He gives an extra emotional honesty, which isn’t the usual praise for musical comedy acting. For example, he gets angry in a way which 1) is completely believable and 2) is both inept and kind-hearted without being whiney. Honest emotion in a cartoon strip. Nicely surprising.
Brianna Pursell as Snoopy, Kaitlyn Delengowski as Patty and Derek L. Miller as Schroeder are equally strong and would share specific praise here if space permitted. My sincere apologies to them, they deserve much better. Each performer in this show deserves a review in and of him/herself. A remarkable cast!
This is a group which specializes in performing in non-traditional spaces. They are a totally mobile company. In some places, they strike the set after each performance because the space is used for other purposes between shows.
Director Charles J. Gill says he pays his actors, but not much. “But”, he adds, “these people are good enough to deserve tangible recognition of their talents. I wish I could pay them more.” I agree, Mr. Gill. You don’t often get professional performances at community prices. But you can, right now, at 30 Irvin Ave, Collingswood, NJ (about 10 minutes from Center City across the Ben Franklin Bridge).
YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN!
by Clark Gesner
Directed by Charles J. Gill
October 13- 23, 2011
Imagination Creation Theatre
at The Perkins Center for the Arts
30 Irvin Ave