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You're A Good Man Charlie Brown
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Clark Gesner

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 1520

SHOWING : March 17, 2006 - April 16, 2006

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Charles Schulz' beloved Peanuts characters come to life in this charming musical celebrating a day in the life of Charlie Brown and friends. Perfect for the whole family.


CAST & CREW LIST
Artistic Director Robert Egizio
Director/Choreographer Jeff McKerley
Musical Director Linda Uzelac
Sound Design Dan Bauman
Lighting Design Amy Humes Lee
Production/Stage Manager Courtney Loner
Costume Design Jane C Uterhardt
Scenic Designer Chuck Welcome
Charlie Brown Chase Davidson
Lucy Van Pelt Taylor Driskill
Schroeder Royce G. Garrison
Snoopy Jimi Kocina
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REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Happiness is Stage Door's Charlie Brown
by Okely Dokely
Saturday, May 13, 2006
4.0
...and not waiting a month to review it.

This was a fine production. It didn't blow me away, but it was as good as any SDP production I've seen. The real star, to me, was the set and the lighting. They helped tell the story nicely.

As Charlie Brown, Chase Davidson's voice took some getting used to. He spoke and sang like Anthony Rapp on helium. His delivery could be a bit too theatrical at times, instead of just presenting his lines straightforward like he was talking to a friend. I bet this sounds like I didn't like him, but I quite enjoyed him and want to see more from him in the future. He's got a great presence and I'm hoping I can see/hear his "real" singing voice and not the nasal version.

Liz Birmingham nailed Sally, and I loved that she didn't copy Kristen Chenowith's exact vocal inflections during My New Philosophy. I was afraid she may have taken the predictable route and done that, but she pleasantly blazed her own trail there.

Taylor Driskill has the best belt I've heard since Laine Binder's. And before you try playing the bias card, let me say that they're technically not friends (not yet - hopefully one day). I've met each of them once, but don't "know know" them per se. Also, since I know a lot of people read this site, let me dream out loud and say I'd love to hear Ms. Driskill and Ms. Binder duet on Take Me Or Leave Me from Rent. Somebody somewhere, make it happen.

John Hardy was a serviceable Linus. I was disappointed (and I bet he was too), that My Blanket and Me was cut short, with a significant chunk of the song left out. I'm not sure why it was like that.

Royce Garrison is always a joy to watch, and this case was no exception, as he played the role I have a lifetime of experience playing. I wish he would tone down his Southern accent and [I hope he'll forgive me for saying this] effeminate mannerisms, but he gives every role he's given his all in the energy department, and can do the kind of vocal runs which rival Fantasia Barrino's. I did think his Arsenio Hall-style hooting was a bit too contemporary and out of place in the Peanuts world, but this is something he should probably have been given a note about in rehearsals, so I don't fault him for that.

Finally, Jimi Kocina as Snoopy. I have been floored by his talent for a few years now. This is the first case, though, where I feel the need to say that he needs to be careful and not get too show-offy and show-stealing. In my opinion, he is one notch away from annoying, but for now, is still in the safe realm. He's one of the best young actors out there, and I'd hate for him to become one of those people that audiences dread seeing. Hopefully this Simon Cowell-like advice will be taken the way it's meant to be taken.

It's a funny thing about this production - the numbers that were the best were not the ones I thought would be show-stoppers, and vice versa. Unexpectedly, my favorites were Beethoven Day and The Book Report, and what I thought would bring the house down only got a moderate response. (The blocking for My New Philosophy was a little boring.) When we could hear the cast, they sounded good. I thought the volume on Linda's keyboard was a tad too high and drowned them out at times, but not too often.

Overall, very well done. I bet this review makes it sound like I didn't like the show as much as I did, and for that I apologize. I really did enjoy it and may Robert Egizio's reign as SDP's AD be long and fruitful.

P.S. - I'd ask this in an e-mail, but I don't know who to ask. Linda/Courtney/Dan (this is probably a Dan question): what was the music playing during intermission that sounded like a jazz combo? It had the most awesome piano licks. I am currently taking online lessons on how to improvise on the piano, and could use all the listening aides I can find. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Good Grief! It was good
by A. Wisenheimer
Saturday, April 22, 2006
4.0
Robert Egigio and Jeff McKerley have orchestrated a pleasing, if not brilliant production with "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Linda Uzelac's accompaniment was appropriate and flawless. The costuming was sketchy at best. Charlie was dressed in the obligatory "Charlie" mode. Sally was creatively and colorfully costumed, while the remainder of the cast, inexplicably, looked as if dressed in Value City rejects and rummage sale castoffs. There were some slightly distracting stage management glitches, as well. The scenery was cartoon-perfect.

The casting was mostly on-target. Chase Davidson adroitly characterized the diffident Charlie. Taylor Driskill was annoyingly Lucy throughout. The temptation would have been to cast a more naturally obnoxious personality, but Taylor handled the task to near perfection, skillfully keeping the self-centered and annoying Lucy just on the brink of unbearable throughout. Jimi Kocina was purebred as Snoopy, making it difficult at times to determine whether he, Charlie, or Lucy was the star. The chance obviously taken in casting Royce Garrison, who's stature tended to dwarf the others and took a bit of getting used to, paid off in actuality. He brought home a very credible performance, with his surprise "Beethoven" solo underscoring Schroeder's dedication to his favorite composer, and he may even have overshadowed Snoopy's "Super time." Liz Birmingham's child-like demeanor and stature served her well in her delightful portrayal of Sally. John Hardy gave an adequate performance, oddly tiptoeing and swaying around as Linus, though his character did grow more endearing as the show progressed.

The entire male cast, along with Taylor Driskill had strutted their stuff in a cabaret performance the week prior to opening night. They guys performed well, with Royce shinning. Taylor proved in this performance that she possesses and knows how to use one of the finest mezzo-soprano voices anywhere, even though "Charlie Brown" was not really a venue for showcasing her awesome vocal talents. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
What a Good Show, Charlie Brown!
by CharlotteR
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
4.0
I saw this show this past weekend and was delighted! It was a well-put-together, colorful, fun production. And judging from the laughs and standing ovation at the end, I wasn’t the only one who thought so either. The vocals in this show were at times, exemplary (Mr. Garrison) and at other times, ok (John Hardy and Jimi Kocina). The sets were bright and vibrant and the costumer did a nice job coordinating character costumes to set, and also to traditional “Peanuts” attire. I did think a couple of the costumes (Lucy and Snoopy) were not on par with the others, but overall created a nice visual effect.
I will agree with the other reviewer here (line!) in that I wasn’t thrilled with the male casting, although I think all did an admirable job with their characters.
However, I have to completely disagree with him/her with the statement, “I just don’t feel that Schroeder, a reserved classical pianist, would normally be expected to posses such a strong “gospel” voice quality.” Beethoven’s Day is considered by many to be one of the best songs in the show- and Royce Garrison’s voice did the song justice. He was wonderful! I was a little thrown off by his portrayal of Schroeder though. He chose to play Schroeder much more hyper, frantic and excitable than I remember from the many Charlie Brown specials I would avidly watch in my youth. Schroeder is, as line! pointed out, the reserved, classical pianist, and that did not come through. And yes, his physical size in comparison to the other actors was a little off, something that I think would perhaps have worked a little better for the characters Charlie Brown or Snoopy (and I can only imagine how wonderful Suppertime would sound with that voice).
I thought Chase Davidson was very convincing. Yes, he is adorable- and one might say “too cute” t o play the lovable loser of Charlie Brown, but I really think he pulled it off with aplomb. The Kite song, a very difficult song to sing, was marvelous!
Jimi Kocina was fantastic as Snoopy- even sounding like Snoopy on many of his ad-libbed barks, whines or whoops. He also had (and yes, it took me a little while into the show to realize this was what he was doing), Snoopy’s way of walking on two feet and keeping his front “paws” bent back at all times. Mr. Kocina’s comedic timing was flawless, and got many more laughs than other Snoopys I have seen In the past- or at least in scenes where the laughs don’t usually come to him. As a matter of fact, at one point, the woman sitting next to me turned and said, “That Snoopy is really stealing the whole show.” While I didn’t agree with this statement, I did think he was great.
I thought John Hardy as Linus, was passable. To me, this is the least memorable character as written, and it takes a hell of a lot of stage presence and genius to outshine the other roles here. Mr. Hardy held his own, but didn’t sparkle. This was the one part I felt was miscast. To me, Mr. Hardy looked like the oldest cast member, and his dark coloring in contrast with everyone else on stage made the ensemble look more unbalanced than Mr. Garrison’s physical size (as commented line!).
Liz Birmingham was sensational as Sally. This is not the first time I have seen Ms. Birmingham on stage, and just like the last time, I think she steals every scene she enters. She has magnetism and vivaciousness that oozes forth from her on stage and the audience wants to eat up. Add to that a wonderful singing voice, and a speaking voice that sounds straight out of a cartoon- and you have the makings your real show stealer.
Lastly, Taylor Driscoll as Lucy. I thought Ms. Driscoll was good in the part. I thought she drastically improved the quality and overall “listenability” of Lucy’s songs, but I felt like her acting was missing something. I felt like every line was delivered directly to the audience, regardless of the scene. I thought she did a very good job, but I felt like something was lacking in her energy, spontaneity, or her level of fun-something that the others had. Like I said, I am very familiar with the show, and usually find some of Lucy’s lines to be the funniest in the show. That wasn’t the case here. Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Schroeder and Sally seemed to really hone in on their sense of play and the child within, while Lucy and Linus were more reserved. Based on the cartoons, that can work for Linus, not for Lucy. I’m not being very articulate with what I felt was missing from the performance, and that’s because it was a very good performance, perhaps the best way to put this is, I don’t think this is or will be Ms. Driscoll’s best role, but she is a good actress and carries off a part.
I wish there were half rating, because I would give this a 4.5 rating. I could not give it a 5 based on the things I have named, most notably, the vocals in some of the numbers (some of the more noteworthy numbers at that) but this was a great show and I had a great time. For anyone who didn’t get to make it there- you missed a helluva good time!

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That Charlie Brown…what a nice boy!
by line!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
4.0
On the evening of Saturday April 8th, I saw a talented cast in a well written (but admittedly aging) musical featuring some of the most universally loved characters in the world. They had a skilled director; a great set; clever costumes; good staging; wonderful musical direction; adequate (appropriate to their skill level?) choreography; and the support of a good audience in one of the best community theaters in Atlanta. Their voices blended beautifully on the ensemble numbers. Their solo voices also sounded great. “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” was a very good show. It showed a great respect for the characters of Charles Schultz and for his memory.

It was a very “polite” production.

“Polite” would be the word to describe the essence of this production for me. All participants did their jobs skillfully and respectfully. That resulted in a general sense of restraint and (yes I’ll say it one more time) politeness that permeated this production for me. There was a very strong, wonderfully creative artistic sensibility to the visual aspects (the set, set pieces and staging) of this production which was not equaled by other aspects of the show.

There were some exceptions. Liz Birmingham’s turn as “Sally” left me feeling that she was the star of the show instead of just a supporting role. Her energy and strong commitment made her a stand out.

Taylor Driskill’s choices for “Lucy” changed the character from a screaming diva to a sort of “Fran Dresher” sounding dynamo. Her vocal quality got on my nerves (which I believe it was supposed to). Her energy and commitment to character were also strong, just grating (again, I think they were supposed to be…at least I hope they were supposed to be…OK, if they weren’t supposed to be, I’m sorry. But they really grated on me.)

The male characters in this one had a tougher time. All were talented, but left me feeling they were somewhat miscast.

Royce Garrison’s voice really impressed me! I will be very excited to see him again in another production. I just don’t feel that Schroeder, a reserved classical pianist, would normally be expected to posses such a strong “gospel” voice quality. His physical size dwarfed his cast mates which caused a visual sense of imbalance in the ensemble. I think he might have made a more interesting “Charlie Brown” (but he would have to tone down that great big voice for sure!).

Thanks to his bone structure and goatee, Jimi Kocina’s physical appearance reminded me of “Shaggy” from the “Scooby-Doo” cartoon series. Unfortunately, once that thought was planted in my mind, his characterizations for “Snoopy” read more like “Scooby-Doo” which didn’t seem appropriate to character. He plays “Snoopy” as cute, not as a “ham”. He does a good job, but I think he has the talent to do more with the character.

Chase Davidson makes a cute “Charlie Brown”. He has a good singing voice and a winning stage presence. But I’m sorry, he’s too cute! He doesn’t convey the “lovable loser” aspects of “Charlie Brown” effectively for me. In my opinion he might have made a better “Linus”.

Speaking of “Linus”, John Hardy’s portrayal of being the youngest one, who is also the wisest one, doesn’t really come across as being intelligent or wise. He comes across more as quiet and reserved. Perhaps those are traits that would have been better suited to “Schroeder”?

The energy level of many “production numbers” seemed restrained. For example, I expected “Suppertime” to bring down the house as an over-the-top-high-energy-I’m-gonna-make-the-audience-stand-up-and-cheer number. What the audience got was “cute”, but not really “energetic”. The big production number turned out to be “Beethoven Day” with the power of Royce Garrison’s “gospel voice” driving a gospel themed tribute to Ludwig Von Beethoven! It was a strong number. It used the talent well. But did it fit into the show stylistically? In my opinion, not really.

Every aspect of this production was, like a well drawn cartoon, neatly “colored in the lines”. I’m not sure whether this was an active stylistic choice (in an attempt to keep the characters two-dimensional like they are in the comic strip) or simply the accidental net result of the combination of the show’s different elements.

Many individual components of this show were “A+”, but overall, the result was a better-than-average “B”. I really loved the projected “In Memory of…” at the end of the show. It was a truly loving choice that brought a tear to my eye. It was indicative of this production: polite and respectful.
-Rial
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You have a good show, Charlie Brown!
by KristieKrabe
Monday, April 10, 2006
4.0
You're A Good Man Charlie Brown is a show that I often feel should only be done by high schools and small community theaters. But the show on Friday night changed my mind.

The cast was wonderful - the voices fit each role perfectly. Kudos to Taylor Driskill. The role of Lucy Van Pelt on the cast recording gives me a migrane when I listen to it, but she actually sings the part rather than screams and I appreciated that! Chase Davidson's Charlie Brown was adorable - I just wanted to pat him on the head and tell him it would be alright. Liz Birmingham's Sally was hilarious. She had so much energy and fun with the role. Royce Garrison - I still am trying to figure out how they got that much soul into a white boy. Great job on Beethoven Day.

This was the first time seeing John Hardy and Jimi Kocina. I thought they were both excellent - in fact, I'm not so sure Jimi wasn't channeling my dog for some of his movements.

The set design was great - I loved the caroonish quality of it all. And the choreography was a lot of fun. Jeff McKerley does a great job of using simple movements that have a Fosse-esque quality to them. Here less is always more. The only thing I didn't love was the times when the entire cast had to exit the stage to get a set piece while still singing. Without mikes the sound was completely lost - a minor complaint, however.

And as always, Linda Uzelac was fantastic (kiss butt, kiss butt, kiss butt) I'm sorry, but I don't think you'll ever hear me say a negative word about her...

I would definitely recommend this show! Good job Stage Door! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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