The York Theatre Company revives the musical inspired by Charles M. Schulz's beloved Peanuts gang, starring a cast of talented kids who've all appeared on Broadway. More…
Spend a day with Charlie Brown and his pint-size philosopher friends, from bright, uncertain morning to starlit, hopeful evening, with lonely brown-bag lunches, kite flying failures, book reports, glee club rehearsals, and suppertime in between. For audiences of all ages.
"This entertaining revival has the novelty of being performed by a cast of lively professional child performers...Director Michael Unger and choreographer Jennifer Paulson-Lee have staged the historic comic strip with small-scale flair. The performances and dancing are of high caliber and the scenes swiftly and effectively shift onward...The show ends with the resonant ode to childhood innocence, 'Happiness.' Hearing actual children sing it is a moving conclusion to this special incarnation." Full Review
"Happiness is 'You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown'...This time around the play is being done by actual kids–extremely talented Broadway kids...All of the actors are top-notch singers, dancers, actors–triple threats all the way...The songs are everything about being a child. Hilarious, clever, hand-clapping good...You will find yourself smiling from ear to ear when you leave." Full Review
"This latest version of this appealing if slight musical has the six young characters actually played by young actors--many with Broadway credits. It makes a difference, especially if you’re planning to bring your own youngsters along, to see kids playing kids for a change. Leading Michael Unger’s spirited production in the title role is the remarkable Joshua Colley, who also possesses an often booming voice...You’ll be charmed, I’m sure, if you go see this show." Full Review
"The endearing young performers providing oomph are irresistible. Children and adults alike can gain fresh pleasure from this production...Despite their youth, the performers come with considerable experience, and it shows. The production generally moves smoothly...The tone of the show mixes naïveté with worldliness, as it should, for the combination gives the show its basic charm. The cast seems to understand this and enjoyably communicates that outlook." Full Review
"Since the tiny characters are usually grappling with their own version of grownup crises, adults always play the parts. But having kids do it makes it fresh, appealing, and endlessly cute (but not cutesy). The show is basically a series of vignettes and songs, like a comic strip come to life...As directed by Michael Unger, they do a lovely job...Shapiro projects a wonderful wisdom of the ages in her face, making her a priceless character actress even now." Full Review
"The clarity of kids’ speaking/singing voices can be high pitched and screaming, at times, to an adult ear so listen up with care. Be that as it may, these kids are all A+ talent…The most endearing of them all is Charlie’s adorable and loving dog Snoopy (Aidan Gemme)…This 'Charlie Brown' should have great appeal to the small set who will discover or rediscover simple life lessons and the wonders of Peanuts characters. The nostalgia aspect for the grown-ups is a definite feel-good." Full Review
"It's the revised version that the York has mounted with a charming and talented cast of kid actors...Naturally, there are some inherent problems with the concept. There are cases where the songs don't sound completely comfortable in developing voices and much of the humor is lost because the young actors don't always seem to know what their lines mean, often racing through the clever material. That's not to say that director Michael Unger's sunny and sweet production isn't enjoyable." Full Review
"The conceit of using talented kids doesn't go very far. Capable as they are, none is especially outstanding, although Gemme’s Snoopy has a delightful Hamish Linklater vibe, Villas displays impressive dance chops, and Colley sings sweetly. The big, big problem is that they’re too young to provide the kind of ironic insights that we’d look for in mature actors playing such preternaturally precocious youngsters; instead, we get just the general appeal of their prepubescent presences." Full Review
"Unger's production loses the gleeful winks that gave the original productions their humor. When presented earnestly, the show doesn't quite work...It feels like a more disturbing look at a desperately unhappy youth and his awful pals. But the kids give it their all, especially Colley, who in the title role is thoroughly heartbreaking while still finding sweet, affable humor in Charlie...Overall, this iteration feels like a production at an arts-based middle school, which isn't a bad thing." Full Review
“As is the case with most of the very young cast, a great deal of the irony and comment in the writing is rushed through and lost. It takes experience and training to be able to play animals and small children with knowing humor...The current production has its heart in the right place, but I think the original idea was a better one - to cast older actors as the little kids who certainly tell us a lot about the secret concerns and unbridled joys of their very questioning minds.” Full Review
"The seven young performers in 'Charlie Brown'...have more impressive resumes than most adult actors...The staging isn’t much better or worse than any of the thousands of other amateur productions of 'Charlie Brown.' The kids are all very talented but they have trouble handling the vocal arrangements and virtually all of the comedy and psychological insight has gotten lost. That said, I was delighted to see so many kids in the audience of an off-Broadway show." Full Review
"The show was not written for children to perform...What is so appealing about this show when performed by adults is that they become cartoon characters because they are not age appropriate but they have the knowledge, experience and vocal range to sustain the script...It might have been an enjoyable afternoon but the show did not live up to its potential....There is something missing – the charm perhaps – when children find the adult in themselves." Full Review
"With the exception of Milly Shapiro, who is a spot-on delight as Sally, all of the actors seemed to need a lot more directing from Michael Unger, whose task here is formidable...Pulling off this show requires knowing that...these characters are both naïvely young and preternaturally adult. Little of that was in evidence at the performance I saw...There is a fair amount of complexity in these seemingly simple characters, which is why 'Charlie Brown' is best when performed by adults." Full Review
"It must have seemed like an inspired idea to employ real children...but it's inimical to the original material...The reason 'Charlie Brown' always worked is that the show grasps something essential about the 'Peanuts' world: Schulz's characters are really angst-ridden adults in miniature, more Kierkegaard than kindergarten...A cast of children, no matter how technically skilled, are hopelessly overmatched...In trying to literalize Schulz's world, Unger and company have killed the joke." Full Review
"Adults make more convincing children than adolescent actors do...This is one issue with this entertaining but rocky new revival...The songs convey a warm and winning, yet clear-eyed, youthfulness in line with Schulz's worldview…But the actors, through no fault of their own, are just not up to this…As fine as the show is, and as game as the still-developing cast members clearly are, this particular production cannot quite overcome the fact that it's at once too young and not young enough." Full Review
See it if You love Peanuts, you remember what it's like to be a kid, you want to laugh, you want to see the next generation of Broadway stars.
Don't see it if You hate fun, don't care for child actors, want something edgy, or just have no heart.
See it if You're a fan of Charlie B., enjoy too-shelf Broadway child actors performing their faces off for you, need to trick your kids into theater.
Don't see it if Can't stand child actors, think Charlie Brown is dated, get bored with 2 hours of kids playing precocious kids.
See it if you have kids who'd enjoy seeing young professional performers completely master & run a show. Very small production (house is very small).
Don't see it if kids ain't your thing. These munchkins really tore it up for us. Very well-done (again small house, small production) and very entertaining.
See it if you remember Peanuts when it still had zing! Great kid cast, fun songs and staging, insightful. Perfect summer night out with family!
Don't see it if you want a plot. This is a series of comic strips brought to life; sweet, warm, light entertainment, cleverly presented. No more/no less.
See it if You're curious to see the show done by professional kids, putting an new spin on a classic.
Don't see it if You're looking for highly polished performances and production values. If you want more ambitious, serious theatre
See it if you're a fan of Peanuts or child actors, or you're in the mood for a "palette cleanser" in between heavier, more dramatic shows.
Don't see it if you're turned off by child actors. This production is staged with kids, though they're quite talented with many big credits.
See it if you like Peanuts & Charles Schulz, curious how a cast of teenage pros do, enjoy the original musical, want a family show, patient with kids
Don't see it if expecting a NYC professional type profession, can't tolerate child actors, good as some may be, miss the irony of adults behaving as kids
See it if You want to see an AMAZING cast and an overall adorable show. And it's totally child friendly!
Don't see it if You would rather not go to a show meant for children and want something less rainbows-and-butterflies.
See it if you like seeing professional kids perform, don't mind low-key sets that remind you of a middle school performance... you like small theaters
Don't see it if you are looking for a replica of the past B'way shows. This is an extremely small production with professional kid actors. great kids tho.
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