PNW Pioneer

Charlie Brown musical brightens Alumni Hall

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PNW’s rendition of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” delivered a comedic and lighthearted, yet touchingly provocative, glimpse into the disordered world of adolescence before a crowd of moderate size on April 22 in Alumni Hall.

The innocence and serenity evoked by the set pieces from Simko Signs – a white picket fence and Snoopy’s doghouse, just to name a few  – was immediately shattered when Lucy, played by Laura Riggle, surprised the audience with the rather loud imperative to silence their phones.

As the show progressed, the shock of Lucy’s attention-begging antics dissipated into mere expectation. Riggle’s high-energy performance captivated the audience and was perfectly fitting for the role of Lucy. Lucy’s goal, it seems, was to steal the show.

But, When Lucy stepped aside, the audience was provided a well-deserved, lengthy introduction to the flawed but forgivable hero. Plagued with self-doubt, Charlie Brown, played by Daniel Straka, is often at war with himself, harboring the ordinary wishes of companionship, but lacking the fortitude to make his wishes into reality. He repeatedly remarks that lunch is the loneliest time, but even though he routinely observes the red-headed girl eating alone, he never approaches her. Yet, Valentine’s Day appeared to be the loneliest for Charlie Brown – everyone except him, even Snoopy, played by Laura Pankowski – received a pile of cards.

Straka did an excellent job capturing the passivity and uncertainty, but also the tenderness of Charlie Brown’s character. The lines were delivered with the quiet hesitance appropriate for his role.

The performance was both incredibly funny and well-timed in its application of ironic humor. Frequently, the stage lights would dim before illuminating a single actor tasked with delivering a sentence wildly deviating from the audience’s expectations given the context of the conversation. Each instance sparked laughter in the crowd which became progressively infectious as the lighting switched with atypical humor. The utilization of this lighting technique perfectly accentuated the witty one-liners that kept the show balanced and light enough to appreciate its darker aspects.

The vignettes were well assembled, a testament to Michele Gustin’s directing with the assistance of student-director Maria Machura. This show illustrates the capacity for childhood angst to breed grandiose dreams. Lucy is intent upon becoming a domineering queen; Schroeder, played by Isaac Tolliver, is usually at his piano playing pieces by Beethoven, a prodigy himself; and Snoopy desires to leave his doghouse and capture the Red Baron. The wit and blanket-toting of Linus, played by George Jurincie, gave a nice nuance and prevent any single-mindedness from overwhelming the plot. Finally, Patty, played by Sierra Stein, provided one of the play’s more memorable comic moments when she has an existential realization while jumping rope.

The Pioneer gives “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” 4.5/5 stars.

 

Show Dates

  • Friday, April 27 – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 28 – 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29 – 3 p.m.

Ticket Prices

  • Adult General Admission – $18
  • Senior Citizen – $16
  • PNW Student with ID – $10
  • Children (12-18) – $10
  • Children under 12 – Free

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://pnw.edu/charlie-brown

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