Saturday, March 3, 2012

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (9 Works Theatrical)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Charlie Brown (Robbie Guevarra) tends to over analyze things and seems to be in some sort of a life crisis which is a bit unusual for a five year old kid. The good thing is that this quirk of his applies mainly to simple dilemmas a kid would usually have. He has a beagle named Snoopy (Lorenz Martinez) who talks, has frequent mood swings, and mounts impromptu concerts over something as simple as his bowl of dog food. Sally (Sweet Plantado) is the smart aleck of a sister who has a knack for challenging her teacher over the low grades that she gets. Her friend Lucy (Carla Guevara-Laforteza) dreams of becoming a queen someday, and has her eyes on Schroeder (Tonipet Gaba), the aspiring musician who uses any information related to Beethoven as a punch line. Completing the group is Linus (Franco Laurel), the thumb sucking genius who also happens to be Lucy’s younger brother, and is in a special relationship with his blanket.

The set is made to resemble what you would probably see in the comics. I only have a vague recollection of Peanuts and among them only Snoopy really left a lasting impression. Anyway, back to the issue of the set. Yes, the set is quite simple and no intricate designs are in sight. In fact you would think that a kid designed it because of its simplicity. The props are attention-grabbing in that they are intentionally made to be larger than life: the red caps during the baseball match, the pencils, Charlie Brown’s brown paper bag and his sandwich, etc. The story is not that hard to follow because there is no story. This musical is comprised of snippets, which perhaps, are patterned after the comics. This led me to think of how cool it would be if Pugad Baboy also had its onstage version pretty much similar to this one.

The musical numbers are entertaining but most do not make an impact, for some weird reason that I could not explain. The crowd favorites would be that one about Peter Rabbit and of course, the finalé about Happiness. The characters make this musical work, specially if you are a big fan of the comics. If not, you might feel a bit weirded out, or even alienated in my case because the crowd was roaring in laughter every other minute but I was not in the joke. To me they were funny alright, but not as much as to evoke a laugh out of my system. Perhaps it is just not my cup of tea. I enjoyed it nonetheless, again because of the characters.

Charlie Brown is funny because of his complicated way of thinking, on how he turns every other simple everyday occurrence into some sort of life and death dilemma. It is not annoying though because even if the actor playing him is obviously not five, the audience still knows very well that the character actually is. Robbie gives justice to the role, in my opinion. As for Lucy, the character is hit or miss for me, although Carla plays the role well, which might be biased but not at all a baseless opinion because this woman owns every role she gets whether it be Lucy, Maureen, or Olive Ostrovsky. Sweet as Sally is hilarious, specially her facial expressions which at times just seemed a bit too much, although still proved to be effective based on the audience reaction. Good role. I think it is the same one that won Kristin Chenoweth her Tony.

Tonipet as Schroeder is believable because of his gestures but when he sings you see how the kid persona seems to suddenly fade away, so I think there is some consistency issue there. Franco is okay as Linus, although some of his actions seem so exaggerated, or perhaps it is just the character. I find the dance with the blanket kind of freaky. Maybe it really is the character! Lorenz as Snoopy is just fine. He has many funny one-liners and that concert with matching gospel choir is really entertaining.

I think this is better seen with a kid, or any big fan of Peanuts. Still, a fun show that I would recommend to anyone wanting to have a good time.

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