'Charlie Brown' opens tomorrow
If the dress rehearsal is any indication, Charlie Brown is better than good. Charlie and the entire cast of the Jamestown Community Theatre production of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" is nothing short of spectacular. The play opens tomorrow night at the Community Center. The Charlie Brown extravaganza is destined to be one of the most exciting productions in the JCT's history.
Musical director Rebecca Brazil worked absolute magic with the cast of singers. Every song was in tune, delivered with confidence and sung with enthusiasm, obviously the result of good coaching. Assistant director and stage manager Iris Bohensky along with the volunteer crew of stagehands changed scenes and set the stage with precision. The lighting was well designed and flawlessly executed.
The magnificent sets included giant cartoons that provided backdrops created by veteran designers Maryanne England and Kevin Summerville, renowned for their work with the JCT over the years.
Veteran director Julie Andrews charmed, encouraged, and praised the young cast for their efforts, inspiring them to sing and dance like never before. And sing and dance they did. They sang their hearts out and danced like a troop of seasoned professionals. The high-energy performance was absolutely electrifying.
"I just love the kids," Andrews said. "Everything is going smooth and easy because we frontloaded the stress. The pressure was on to learn the material during the first few rehearsals, and the schedule was demanding, even for professionals." According to Andrews, the children were real troopers and proved their worth. They were up to the task and now they're enjoying the fruits of their labors, she added.
Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, and Schroeder all sing wonderful solos. Snoopy and Linus will win hearts with their singing and dancing. The choreography by Mary Beth Murphy is superb.
The fabulous music, the imaginative costumes, the singing and dancing, the spectacular sets and lovable characters promise an exciting and fulfilling night of entertainment for all who attend.
Michael Liebhauser, who plays the lead role as Charlie Brown, said, "It's gonna be great! I love the part. Charlie Brown has a side to him that we can all relate to." Damien Beecroft, who's father is veteran film and television actor David Beecroft, plays the part of Linus. This is his third play, and he just finished doing a "really cool music video with the rock band Life of Riley," he said. He is being interviewed about the play tomorrow morning by radio personality Art Berluti on Newport station WADK.
"You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" is a musical comedy based on the "Peanuts" cartoon characters created by illustrator Charles M. Schulz in the early '60s. It first appeared on Broadway in 1971 with adults playing all the parts. The difference between the JCT version of the play and the original
version is that children will play the parts of children, an idea fostered by the talented Andrews.
Andrews is a teacher at Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University in the music departments. She was artistic director for Opera Providence's production of "Opera2Broadway" at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Last year, she directed "Red, Hot and Cole" for the Main Stage Series at Roger Williams. She is the recipient of the Boriks Goldovsky Fellowship for Opera Direction from the National Opera Association. Andrews holds a master's degree in vocal performance and pedagogy.
Charlie, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, Schroeder, and the rest of the gang will be performing at the Community Center on weekends from Friday, Oct. 27, to Saturday, Nov. 4. All performances start at 7 p.m. except for the Sunday performance on Oct. 29, which starts at 4 p.m.
Advance tickets cost $7 for children 12 and under and seniors 65 and older, and adult tickets cost $12. At the door, tickets cost $10 for children and seniors, and $15 for adults. Tickets can be purchased in Jamestown at Baker's Pharmacy, Conanicut Ship's Store, and the Secret Garden. In Tickets are also available at Pleasant Surprise in Newport and at Midnight Sun in Wickford. Advance tickets are recommended because all performances are expected to sell out. For further information, call 560- 0199.