`Charlie Brown' musical produces fun for all ages

February 18, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Chesapeake Music Hall's version of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" is fun for the whole family.

Charles Schulz's comic strip characters retain their unique charm and acquire an extra bounce in the songs from Clark Gesner's 1967 musical. The show opens at the theater off U.S. 50 about the same time as a Broadway revival.

Sherry Kay, music hall owner and general manager, is a skilled director who gets fine performances from a cast that conveys the zest and fun of being children. Anita O'Connor makes an auspicious start as musical director.

The show is all but guaranteed to help adults rediscover their childhoods.

We encounter Charlie Brown at various times as he comes up short with no valentines, loses every baseball game, has no luck flying his kite and never gets a response from the redheaded girl down the street.

Kevin Cleaver is an appealing Charlie Brown, with a lovable mix of self-doubt and resignation.

Cleaver has a terrific singing voice to do full justice to the nice tunes.

Charlie Rogers is convincing as pet beagle Snoopy. He delivers "The Red Baron" number wearing goggles and billowing scarf while perched atop his Sopwith Camel doghouse.

His frenzied demands for food in "Suppertime" turn into ecstasy at the sight of his full supper dish -- a routine to bowl over any audience.

Mary Armour-Kaiser is always adorable, usually bossy and often confrontational as manipulative, crabby Lucy. She transforms herself into a sassy little girl and easily steals every scene she is in.

Peter Kaiser is terrific as her little brother, blanket-hugging philosopher Linus, especially in "My Blanket and Me," when he dances with his blanket-partner.

As music-loving Schroeder, David Reynolds is able to convince us that he is only 6 years old. He has developed a little boy's awkward stance, and he skillfully conveys Schroeder's resignation and supreme distaste for Lucy's inferior musical taste.

Susan Bell as sweet Patty with a curly blond wig is a latter-day Shirley Temple, adding her own fun.

"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" runs through March 28.

Information and reservations: 410-626-7515 or 800-406-0306.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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