By Rachel Zalucki

MU Theatre’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” nearly brought me to tears with their spot-on rendition of a nostalgic masterpiece.

As a child, my first experience with musical theater was “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. It was put on by my middle school drama teacher, who had also cast himself as the lead, and co-starred other teachers and school faculty. It was a strange and hilarious experience, but it struck me deeply with an appreciation for theater that stayed with me throughout middle school and lead to a few disastrous drama tryouts in high school.

Even before that experience, Charlie Brown has been, and always will be, a symbol of my childhood. From discovering the Great Pumpkin to his long feud against kites, the Peanuts gallery has always brought a serving of joy and fun to the table, with a small, but valuable life lesson hidden in each helping.

Thursday Night, the company of MU Theatre’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, should be commended for their rendition of the musical. With such a broad cast of powerhouse characters, it was a wonder anybody walked out of the Rhynsburger Theatre without a tear in their eye.

Charlie Brown stands on stage with Snoopy and other Peanuts characters as they fly kites.

Charlie Brown, played by Emmanuel Llorente, struggles with his kite. (Provided by the MU Theatre Department)

The production’s lead, Emmanuel Llorente, portrayed Charlie Brown with a refreshing authenticity and even brought zest to Charlie’s signature dance moves.

Lucy, brought to life by the lovely Leah Huskey, was loud and dominant throughout the entirety of the show. Her presence on stage was palpable and intimidating. She brought a sincere smile to my face as she shouted and screamed through musical numbers and baseball sequences.

Sally Brown, played by Adrianna Northrop, also had a commanding performance, in which she powered through musical numbers about catchphrases, or otherwise known as “philosophies,” and endearing monologues. She sang about how society judges characters on the quality of their content rather than the quality of their character.

Schroeder, played by Murphy Warp, and Linus, played by Katherine Carns, should also be acknowledged for the sarcasm and intellect they brought to the production. Schroder’s amusing obsession with Beethoven interacts with Linus’ lectures on how Peter Rabbit reflects a narrative of societal and familial pressures. This interaction will confuse and delight the viewer as Schroder plays a child’s piano and Linus sucks his thumb.

Schroder plays the piano as Lucy admires him.

Lucy, played by Leah Husker, expresses her plan to marry Schroder, played by Murphy Warp. (Provided by the MU Theatre Department)

Peppermint Patty, played by Claire Welsh, and Marcy, played by Marguerite Seaton, brought humorous asides and excellent banter as well.

And last but certainly not least, Jacob Smith as Snoopy is arguably one of the most humorous interpretations of the character to date. Granted, he is the only person I have seen portray Snoopy since my middle school English teacher did a dramatic reading of the play in our school’s cafeteria. Regardless, I laughed until I cried at his brilliant gags, his dramatic battles with the infamous Red Baron, and his beautiful solo number, simply entitled “Suppertime”.

In all, this musical was an amazing experience, especially for students looking for respite from their first round of exams like I was. I highly recommend taking the time to go watch these students’ hard work and talent, but just be sure to remember the tissues.

The final productions of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Rhynsburger Theatre.

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