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ONSTAGE in Bedford's charming 'Charlie Brown'

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Through Sept. 2

ONSTAGE in Bedford, Bedford Boys Ranch, Forest Ridge Drive at Harwood Road

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday




Posted 7:03am on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012

BEDFORD -- The material is old, cloying and overly familiar.

But those are the primary charms of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the musical based on the immortal comic strip, now up in an admirable production at ONSTAGE in Bedford.

If you are among the few who have not already seen this show multiple times, it comprises a series of vignettes based on the anxiety-filled, day-to-day life of the title hero.

Most of the favorite characters and situations from Charles Schulz's comic strip (which, I believe, was first found on the walls of Egyptian pyramids) are on hand. The red-haired girl, the kite-eating tree and the pain of failure on the baseball diamond are among the circles of hell that poor Chuck must navigate while trying to remain on key.

This production, breezily directed by Lon Barrera, does well by the piece. It bounces along nicely and is appealing in both its look and sound.

Derek C. Whitener brings a consistent uneasiness to the title character and sings his part well. Leah Clark is outstanding as the shrewish Lucy. She gives the character the proper physical bearing and her costume, by Whitener, is probably the best in a well-dressed cast.

Kim Borge, as Sally, often captures the clueless insouciance of the youngest member of the Peanuts crew. And Zak Dacus Reynolds displays one of the best voices in the show in the complicated and layered role of Snoopy -- a pup with more alternate lives than Walter Mitty.

He has one of the show's better moments in the tune Rabbit Chasing.

The players are well supported by an unseen, four-piece band led by pianist and musical director Kristin Spires.

The set design, by ONSTAGE associate artistic director Alex Krus, helps set the appropriate atmosphere by employing a broad palette in its color scheme.

In terms of the songs and book, this has always been a slight show that treads more on its source's reputation than its own merits. There isn't really a hit in it and, with all its cute kids, it sometimes strains to entertain adults.

But fans of Peanuts have long been more than willing to forgive those shortcomings in exchange for seeing their favorite comics brought so vividly to life. So if this show is good enough for you, this energetic production of it should sure be good enough for you.

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