There’s nothing like a good belly laugh, if possible, in the company of a bunch of similarly tickled people.
All who go along to Beit Yad LaBanim in Tel Aviv on May 11, May 16 (both 7:30 p.m.) or May 19 at 12 noon may find themselves in good like-spirited company as they sit down to enjoy performances of yesteryear hit Broadway musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
The original production opened for business in New York City on March 7, 1967, with the initial run doing excellent business and stretching to almost 1,600 shows. There have been a bunch of revivals of the multiple Tony Award- and Drama Desk Award-winning musical, and now The Stage TLV English-language community theater outfit is offering its rendition of the sonorous, rhythmic, dynamic, comedic portrayal of the beloved Peanuts comic strip characters that have delighted generations of Americans, Brits and others all over the world for over 70 years. At its zenith, Peanuts appeared daily in 2,600 papers in 75 countries, in 21 languages. The Stage TLV has simply got to be on a winner.
Becky Brothman certainly hopes so.
“It’s great raw material, and it’s Charles Schulz’s 100th birthday!” exclaims The Stage TLV executive director and assistant producer of the current project. In fact, had he not died in February 2000 at the age of 77, the Peanuts cartoonist would have hit his century last November. No doubt, had he still been around, the centennial celebrations would have rolled on for a while.
Growing up with Charlie Brown
Brothman says she grew up with the lovable, often hapless character of Charlie Brown and the rest of the multifaceted Peanuts gang –bossy Lucy Van Pelt and her intellectual younger brother, Linus; Charlie Brown’s verbally acrobatic younger sister, Sally, Beethoven-mad toy piano-playing Schroeder and, of course, everyone’s favorite canine pal, the wily versatile Snoopy. There are also a couple of chorus singers-dancers in the cast of the forthcoming shows who will complement their colleagues’ vocal efforts in such emotive musical numbers as “My Blanket and Me,” “The Kite,” “The Baseball Game” and “Happiness.” Lots for the patrons to wrap their ears and hearts around.
The new production may be fresh and vivacious, but it doesn’t stray too far away from the original script and intent.
“Our director Susan Gellman – for her, Peanuts is also part of her childhood,” Brothman notes. “She took care to be true to the nostalgia of the piece.”
There is, says Brothman, lots to get out of Mr. Schulz’s enduringly popular ingenious creation.
“I think Peanuts is so good at teaching children and adults these moments and these differences in personality and these differences in skill and talent, and what people bring to relationships, and how to appreciate the differences between people,” Brothman observes.
“I think Peanuts is so good at teaching children and adults these moments and these differences in personality and these differences in skill and talent, and what people bring to relationships, and how to appreciate the differences between people.”Becky Brothman
Well put, and those sentiments inform the lyrics of the numbers in the musical and brief dialogue interludes.
“It is such fun and so colorful,” Brothman notes. “We have such a great cast, and we have a professional costume designer (Eden Tayar) and set designer (Nogah Seidemann). They really bring it all to life. It is so colorful, like a comic strip.”
That sounds just the format ticket.
Fun and entertainment are the name of The Stage TLV project game. Brothman hopes the audiences at Beit Yad LaBanim will have a good time, but also take something a little deeper away with them. “There is something universal about Peanuts but also a very nostalgic element. We seem to have lost our sense of happiness, which is sad. We need to remember that it’s OK just to be happy with our friends.” Like Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang. “It’s fine just to play outside with your friends, succeeding and failing. That’s OK. We’ve lost that sense of profound simplicity, just playing, hanging out and getting dirty and that sort of thing.”
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown might help to get us back our core values, and shake off all the white noise and sociopolitical hubbub.
“The thing about this musical is that it is playful and joyful,” Brothman adds. “There is not much more to it. It just makes people happy. There is so little entertainment around these days that just makes you feel happy, with no expectations. I’d like people to leave our show with a smile on their face and wanting to call their best friend.”
For tickets and more information: www.thestagetlv.com