24 June 2011

It's a Really Good Production, Playhouse on Park!

I should start off this review of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Playhouse on Park with an admission of my tricky relationship with the characters from Peanuts.  On the one hand, I think A Charlie Brown Christmas is the second best Christmas show ever (sorry, nothing can top Greer Garson's narration of The Little Drummer Boy), and I remember, when I was about twelve-years-old, buying The Gospel According to Peanuts from the Walden Books in Beechmont Mall.  (I'm bummed that I don't have that copy anymore.)  On the other hand, I despise (and find rather creepy) the Hartford Courant's decision to run old Peanuts strips daily in the comics section; Schulz is dead, after all, and so his comics should not continue to run as if he's not.  Calvin and Hobbes are alive in plenty of anthologies; Charlie et alia should only be there too.

I say all of this to make clear I'm neither a Charlie Brown lover nor hater.

And so it is with YAGMCB; while I'm not terribly fond of the show as written (see below), I liked this production A LOT: Lindsay Adkins' Lucy is remarkable; her self-revelatory moment of crabbiness is the laugh-out-loud funniest thing I've seen on stage in a long time!  Hillary Ekwall, as Sally, has never been better.  And, boy, can Joseph Fierberg's Snoopy dance!  In fact, the entire cast (including Steven Mooney as Charlie Brown, Kevin Barlowski as Linus, and Dante Jeanfelix as Schroeder) is never less than engaging and is more than worth the time and energy to go and watch them bring these characters to life.  (The show closes this Sunday; so hurry up.)

Sean Harris's direction is crisp, effecting, and effective in conjuring up the iconic characters, and the orchestra, under the direction of Emmett Drake, is equally good, but, in my opinion, just too loud, at times, for the space.

Any real criticisms I have is of the show itself.  I know it is a perennial favorite among theatre groups (although this is my first time seeing a production of it), but, like the comic strip upon which is is based, the little vignettes that essentially comprise the script, while very nicely done by this talented ensemble, are never really that funny or witty or moving.  (Although, given the recent hullabaloo over the marriage of Kate and Wills, I had to laugh when Lucy complained that her not being able to be queen even though she really wanted to be one was unfair and "undemocratic"!)  And the songs, once again very well sung by this cast, are not really that memorable....although my two theatrically-inclined daughters (15- and 12-years-old, respectively) heartily disagree. 

In short, I really like this cast and everything about the production, even if I'm unsure why the play itself continues to be so popular.  But please keep in mind that I'm often told I'm out-of-touch in my taste in musicals.

The talents of the cast and crew are undeniable, so don't find yourself saying on Sunday evening "Good Grief, I missed that show!"

19 June 2011

The power of the purse

Let me just say this: If the proposed concession agreement doesn't pass because of those corrections officers, I'm NEVER sending any of my children to their prisons!

05 June 2011

Waking Up to Emmylou Harris

On this morning's early walk, I left the house at 6:40 accompanied by 1970s Emmylou Harris (Pieces of the Sky, 1975, and Luxury Liner, 1977).  Now, I've always known who Emmylou Harris is, both abstractly and in recordings I've had for years with the Band, Elvis Costello, and John Denver, but this was a TREAT!

Her own "Boulder to Birmingham," Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors," Lennon and McCartney's "For No One," Chuck Berry's "C'est La Vie,"  the Louvins' "When I Stop Dreaming," and Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" are just a few of the gems, tied beautifully together with that voice.

Given her longevity and the names of those who have held her in such high regard, I shouldn't be amazed, and probably should be ashamed for taking so long to take this walk, but better late than never.

I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham
I would hold my life in his saving grace
I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham
if I thought I could see, I could see your face

02 June 2011

June is bustin' out all over in New Britain...

Seizing full advantage of the absolutely beautiful weather today (70s with a breeze!), I took a nice lengthy round trip walk (almost synchronized with Dylan's double album Blonde on Blonde) from home to Walnut Hill Park.

In case you haven't noticed, late Spring has arrived full blown in central Connecticut.
One can tell by:

the fountain at work at the corner of Lincoln and Corbin,
the number of mid-day bikers and walkers,
the return of sunbathers amidst the grove of "State" trees,
a batsman practicing his cricket swings,
the rose bushes a-blooming atop the Park!