He’s a ‘good man’

College actors present rendition of ‘Charlie Brown’ Broadway show

Pagosa Springs’ Thingamajig Theatre Co. assembled a cast of top-notch local and regional young actors for the summer production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Enlarge photo

Rory Chapman/Special to the Herald

Pagosa Springs’ Thingamajig Theatre Co. assembled a cast of top-notch local and regional young actors for the summer production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Good grief! Charlie Brown is in Pagosa Springs and he still can’t fly a kite, hit a baseball or win the little red-haired girl. In its revival of the 1967 Broadway classic, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Thingamajig Theatre Company brings a youthful and energetic cast to the cute and lighthearted story.

If you had been wondering where all the Fort Lewis College theatre students had gone for the summer, the answer is Pagosa Springs. Nearly all cast members are students or recent alumni, bringing a very new energy to the Pagosa Center for the Arts. The musical serves as an excellent showcase for actors’ burgeoning talents.

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is essentially a live-action cartoon strip. Based upon the enduring comic “Peanuts,” the musical is a gallimaufry of scenes, each of which could easily be an extended Sunday Funny. Interspersed with cleverly written and performed songs, the play captures all the delightfulness and charm of Charles M. Schultz’s original work.

Fort Lewis junior Adam Sowards gives an endearing performance as the loveable underdog Charlie Brown. He captures Charlie Brown’s self-conscious, bumbling and wistful nature with a new, slightly harsher inward look. This is an over-parented Charlie Brown of the 21st century.

The 5-year old’s cast of friends is as rambunctious as ever. Elizabeth Dunn, as Sally, is a marvel to listen to and watch. She truly brings new life to Charlie Brown’s troublesome sister with an almost airheaded approach to some well-played preschooler mannerisms. Both she and Mohriah James, as Lucy, have a wonderful charisma in their short scenes together.

James is every bit as obnoxious as the more often than not crabby Lucy. Her romantic obsession for Schroeder (Laith Scherer) plays out to hilarity in their inadvertent duet “Schroeder.”

A wonderful ensemble script, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” gives every character center stage. Linus (Billy Pinto,) and his blanket, enjoy a wonderful dance routine with the song “My Blanket and Me.” Pinto does a fantastic job offering Charlie Brown some, as always, insightful, yet unhelpful advice.

But we must not forget Snoopy. Everyone’s favorite pooch might not receive dinner on time, but he certainly gets his fair share of attention with several brilliant solos and dance numbers. Alyse Neubert captures Snoopy’s dry, often fantastic, sense of humor. And who knew Snoopy could dance so well?

Neubert also choreographed “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Though the staging is quite simple, Neubert makes the most of the small, intimate space. Directed by Wendy Moore, of Glenwood Springs, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is a well-played, enjoyable family production. It’s a perfect addition to Thingamajig’s summer season, which also includes a production of “Chicago” and a yet-to-be-announced musical in August.

After an ambitious inaugural season, Thingamajig seems to be cutting itself a bit of slack with “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” The fun, straightforward script provides the talent behind the Pagosa Center a chance to breathe before an intense 2012-13 season begins this fall.

Margaret Hedderman is a freelance writer based in Durango. Reach her at margaretyh@gmail.com.

Lucy (Mohriah James) and Linus (Billy Pinto) struggle to write a book report in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Enlarge photo

Rory Chapman/Special to the Herald

Lucy (Mohriah James) and Linus (Billy Pinto) struggle to write a book report in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.