Cyrus Lane and Jane Miller: listen to the music, ignore their raggedy costumes.
YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWNby Clark Gesner, Michael Mayer and & Andrew Lippa (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, 165 Front East). To December 30. $15-$20. 416-862-2222. Rating: NNN
The popular comic strip peanuts made the transition to the stage nicely in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. But what was clever onstage decades ago doesn't always hit the right notes today.
In this world of wise children, reflections by the ever-hopeful Charlie Brown, his sister Sally, bossy Lucy, her intellectual brother Linus, piano-playing Schroeder and Snoopy the beagle may provoke a chuckle of understanding, but most of the short, blackout-style scenes lack dramatic punch.
Director Allen MacInnis, helped by choreographer Nicola Pantin and musical director Paul Sportelli, succeeds better with extended numbers like a choral book report on Peter Rabbit and the group's optimistic though sure-to-be-defeated baseball team.
Cyrus Lane's Charlie Brown, never allowing failure to destroy his belief that he can improve his life, is a winner; Lane knows how to balance the character's comic and touching qualities. Andrew Kushnir makes a charming Linus, especially in his duet with his faithful companion blanket.
Jane Miller's Lucy has a heart under her crabbiness, but she could be more tyrannical in everything from her infatuation with Schroeder (Karim Morgan) to her constant humiliation of Charlie Brown without becoming a caricature. As Sally, Jessica Greenberg comes across as an embryonic Lucy and gets the most out of her solo number, My New Philosophy.
While Jay Turvey has one of the best voices onstage, his bland Snoopy fails to convince us of the canine's rich fantasy life.
And although there's a timeless feel to Robin Fisher's set of colourful squares and rectangles, what's with Judith Bowden's bizarre costumes, which turn the figures into cousins of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy?
As Charlie Brown would say, "Good grief!"