It talks. Unlike the silent black-and-white version of the cartoon, the Snoopy in “You Are A Good Man Charlie Brown” talks.
Based on the classic “Peanuts” series, the show consists of a series of more than 15 one-act vignettes, set up in a show with a live orchestra, synchronized dancing and powerful acting. Director and choreographer Mckay Nield ’13 may have kept many of the traditions of the original cartoon — like intercalating grown-up humor with children stories — but the show clearly aims at a college-aged audience.
In one of the skits, an apathetic and melancholic Charlie Brown (Andrew Bezek ’13) enters the scene with his brown lunch bag in hand, wondering why the day is so gray and his life is so lonely. “Lunchtime is the worst time,” he mumbles, as he takes a bite of his peanut butter sandwich. As usual, it sticks to the roof of his mouth. Suddenly, he spots his beloved (and imaginary) redheaded girl, and wishes he had the courage to talk to her. Charlie Brown’s anger rises: “Who is she to dare not give me one silly little look?” he asks.
Imaginary redheaded girl is looking at him. Charlie Brown panics, and covers his head with the brown paper bag that once held his PBJ sandwich. With his expressionless sweetieface, Bezek manages to transmit the unidimensional yet deep emotional conflict that Charlie Brown is known for.
Then enter his “friends,” who sing to him, “But you’re a good man, Charlie Brown,” while mockingly sticking their tongue out. Their dancing, well-synchronized and original, was upbeat enough to prompt some members of the audience to sing along — joining the hate choir against a clinically depressed Charlie Brown. It was scary.
Fortunately, Charlie Brown is cured of his melancholy in another of the skits. The ambitious Lucy Van Pelt (Mallory Baysek ’11) sets up a “Psychiatric help” stand and effectively becomes his therapist. “For whatever is worth, you are you,” she says. He is the one and only Charlie Brown, the one and only person who’d pay 5 cents to find this out.
In yet another skit, Lucy tries to win the heart of the young pianist Schroeder (Nathaniel Doloquist ’14). She asks him what he did with her picture.
“I threw it away,” he says, all detached.
“He touched my picture!” she tells the audience, channeling that fat girl in “Mean Girls” recalling that one time Regina George punched her in the face.
It was awesome.
Snoopy (Yael Zinkow ’12), the point of this whole thing, appears for the first time with his tongue out sleeping on top of his doghouse roof. It not only talks, but it shakes from head to toe in the way only this very talented actress, and I guess beagles, are capable of. Post-howling sesh, the attitude-rich dog ponders, “Yesterday, I was a dog. Today, I am a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably be a dog. So little possibility of advancement!” Zinkow goes far beyond the classical Schulz Snoopy with her animated howls, jumps, sprints, growls, and the fluffy pigtails she sports as ears.
Snoopy and Sally decide to make the day fun by chasing rabbits in what turns out to be the most engaging skit. The duo searches for them under chairs, sniffing the audience to detect rabbit scent, looking inside people’s purses.
“I found a $10 bill!” Snoopy cries excited, but then finds out that one of the audience members “smells like they have a dog!”
That is precisely what makes this play so endearing: the cast’s conviction to engage the audience to make them part of the show. “You Are A Good Man Charlie Brown” is sure to bring Yalies a lot of happiness and entertainment before plunging into the reality of final exams.