Our metro region never ceases to amaze me with the abundance of local talent right here. And I mean ferocious talent. That kind of talent is on full display at Adventure Theatre MTC’s current production, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. We know the cast of characters from cartoons and movies over generations, but there’s simply nothing like watching them come alive with catchy songs, great staging, and vitality.
This ATMTC season opener shows the power of a full rousing ensemble to bring to life characters that we’ve grown up with like family. Whether playing in the schoolyard, at home, or on the block, Charlie Brown’s life revolves around his friends and that’s what the show gets across.
Deimoni Brewington as Linus is a mainstay in the musical scene, and watching him you can see why. He fills the room with energy as Linus carries his blue blanket for comfort and security. “My Blanket and Me” is one of the many highlights where he displays a full range of emotions when he tries so hard to leave his blanket on the floor, futilely resisting the urge to grab it for just a few moments before rushing to swoop it up again. He’s soon joined by the whole ensemble, each with their blankets, including Snoopy, in a rousing musical number, wonderfully choreographed by Ashleigh King and popping fresh direction by new ATMTC Artistic Director Kurt Boehm.
Caroline Graham’s powerhouse vocals make Lucy a force to be reckoned with as she rules the roost, provides advice from her lemonade stand, and tells all who will listen why she should be Queen. Julia Lennon’s Sally is a hit with My New Philosophy where she turns what she hears into her new snarky retorts, from “That’s What You Think” to “Why are you telling me?” to “No!” and “I can’t stand it!” — she’s hilarious. Quincy Vicks as Beethoven-loving Schroeder is a surprise wonder as he hunkers over the tiny piano with fingers perfectly keystroking the notes, then he jumps on the musician’s stand and jams on the keyboard — he knows what he’s doing. Christian Montgomery is a terrific Snoopy, bouncy, exuberant, with hearty vocals. His big musical numbers sparkle with joy and determination whether he’s tackling the Red Baron or leading a full musical number for Suppertime, delightfully choreographed as a big old-fashioned musical number.
And finally, there’s Jimmy Bartlebaugh’s hapless Charlie Brown, who ends up on the losing end of every situation, doesn’t get a break, yearns for the tiniest bit of attention from an unseen little red-haired girl, cares for his dog, and still gets up no matter how many times he’s knocked down. Bartlebaugh embodies Charlie’s tenacity to shake off any drudgery that would sink a less hardy soul. Bartlebaugh plays Charlie as a comeback kid who finds a way to keep going, despite the putdowns, and in a way, embodies what the entire show is about. Lucy sings “You’re a Good Man” at the top of the show, and even though nothing has gone his way, Charlie Brown sings what “Happiness” is at the end full of smiles, generosity, and yes, even gratitude. As Charlie Brown (the other characters always state his full name), Bartlebaugh is touchingly genuine and is the little engine that keeps chugging along. The entire show is like that, engaging with zippy appeal through all the musical numbers, the periodic spouting of the familiar “Good Grief!” and packed with full-throttle fun.
Music Director Elisa Rosman on keyboard leads a funky trio of percussion and a versatile artist on flute, saxophone, and several other wind instruments in between. The artistry is off the charts, as can be seen in the costume design by Paris Francesca’s rendition of the iconic looks for the characters, with vibrantly colored poof dresses for Lucy and Sally, and the yellow shirt top with the familiar jagged stripe along the bottom edge for Charlie Brown.
Set by Josh Sticklin shows a backdrop of siding on stage right depicting a house, fencing lines the back, then red brick for a schoolhouse over left and a full playing area in the center. A moveable platform of benches ingeniously converted to a WWII fighter plane for Snoopy to take on the Red Baron, complete with a propeller on the front. Snoopy’s red doghouse completed the iconic look along with the bluest sky and clouds that seemed to drift by.
The Charlie Brown musical has been around since the late 1960s, long before current ubiquitous digital technology, PlayStations, and iPhone. Its messages from the comic strips about friendships, family, and fun are timeless, the show is a hit today as much as ever and is a feel-good must-see for the entire multi-generational family.
Running Time: 70 Minutes with no intermission.
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown plays through October 29, 2023, at Adventure Theatre MTC (ATMTC), 7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD. Showtimes are Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays (and several Wednesdays and Thursdays) at 11 AM, and weekends at 11 AM and 2 PM. See the schedule to plan and purchase tickets. Tickets (general admission, all ages, $25) are available online or call the box office at 301-634-2270.
American Sign Language Interpreted Performance: September 30, 2023 at 2 pm
Sensory-/Autism-Friendly Performance: October 14, 2023 at 2 pm
Please note that strobe lighting effects and plane dogfight sound effects are used in this production with the exception of the Sensory-Friendly performance.
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown
A musical based on The Comic Strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer
Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Jimmy Bartlebaugh (Charlie Brown)
Deimoni Brewington (Linus)
Caroline Graham (Lucy)
Julia Lennon (Sally)
Christian Montgomery (Snoopy)
Quincy Vicks (Schroeder)
Directed by Kurt Boehm
Musical Direction: Elisa Rosman
Choreography: Ashleigh King
Costume Designer: Paris Francesca
Set Design: Josh Sticklin
Lighting Design: Lynn Joslin
Sound Design: Brandon Cook
Stage Manager: Sam Linc