Imagination Creation Delivers Crackerjack YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN!

by Terry Stern
From the roots of the show in 1967 right up through curtain at the performance attended, ensemble has been the hallmark of this show. Strong ensemble on every level:  impressive voices, excellent comic timing, fast and fluid staging, great set pieces, wonderful use of design in lighting, terrific musicians. It was as glorious as watching the Phillies in September. 

Craig Hutchings as Charlie Brown in Imagination Creation's YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, running through October 23!

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. 

Felicia Latoya Brown as Lucy in Imagination Creation's YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN! running in Collingswood, NJ through Oct 23.

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). 

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
Collingswood, NJ

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Jack Shaw
Jack Shaw October 20, 2011 - 9:24 am

Terry, couldn’t be more right about YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN! I know this because I know Chuck Gill and some of the cast members, have worked with them and even reviewed them. This must be a great show! Forget that it is totally engaging and fun Charles Schultz and all our favorite characters. Craig Hutchings as Charlie Brown makes me want to come all the more; he is terrific in anything he does and plays it to the hilt. He IS Charlie Brown. As for Felicia Latoya Brown as Lucy, WOW! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! I will find the time, darn it!

I, too, hate to see poorly attended shows, but it happens. First night can be forgiven. After that I’m…well, upset. At a lot of people. This is a great “new” space and this group performs as good as it gets–and it gets great. It’s one of the reasons to love theatre. My reviewing schedule probably means I may not be able to see it. That’s upsetting but there is so much good theatre here, it’s a shame to miss any of it. Could always use some more New Jersey reviewers, too.

Charles J October 21, 2011 - 11:24 am

Thank you Jack for your kind words! It is great to have such a wonderful, hardworking ensemble! Thank you Terry for coming to see the show and spreading the word! Patricia has been wonderful towards IMAGINATION CREATION. Thank you STAGE! C’mon SJ our last weekend of CHARLIE BROWN…join us!

Sooze October 22, 2011 - 3:14 pm

CONGRATULATIONS to the cast and crew of CB and of IMAGINATION CREATION. Craig and Felcia ….you rock!


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