Tag Archives: Anthony Drewe

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard Theatre

5 Oct

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown is a musical based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner. This production is directed by the renowned lyricist Anthony Drewe. It first opened at an off-Broadway theatre in 1967, so all I can say is that I am glad it has finally made it to the UK, where it is now  shown for the first time at the Tabard Theatre in London.

It features all the familiar Peanuts characters: Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Sally and of course Charlie Brown. The story is quite simple, a bit cheesy, very funny and, most of all, heart-warming. I just couldn’t help smiling through-out most of the musical, because it was a joy to watch such a charming little musical. It’s all about friendship and growing-up and what makes someone good.

Charlie Brown is played by Lewis Barnshaw (who I last saw as Cooking Stove on the very same stage!). He is wonderfully naive, endearing and awkward. You just can’t help liking him.

Mark Anderson plays Snoopy. His dry comments and monologues probably got the most laughs tonight, and not only because he accidentally broke off one of the wooden propeller blades of his “doghouse plane”. Suppertime was one of the highlights of the show for me.

Hayley Gallivan as Sally Brown is great, too. She has an incredible voice and is very funny. I especially liked her in My New Philosophy.

Leanne Jones is probably best known for playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray and now we get her as Lucy van Pelt. She was so funny in her “survey” scene, but she also has some nice, less crabby moments in the show. Great chemistry with Adam Ellis.

Adam Ellis plays Linus van Pelt, Lucy’s younger brother. I think the word that best sums his performance up is sweet, especially his lisp. And he’s incredibly funny too. My Blanket and I was amazing!

Nathaniel Morrison as Schroeder was very good as well. His expressions in some scenes (Schroeder for one, or Glee Club Rehearsal) were priceless and he has a great voice.

The set was simple, yet clever and I loved it! I really liked how the kite flying is done and the way they just transform the doghouse in a blackboard, aeroplane etc. Schroeder’s piano is wonderful too. The same can be said for the choreography, especially the ensemble numbers. They were a joy to watch, there even is a tap number!

My only (minor) quibble is, as so often, the sound. They don’t use microphones and I thought that (mostly) the drums were too loud and drowned out some of the singing. I found it especially difficult to hear Lewis Barnshaw and Mark Anderson, but it improved a bit towards the end. It is a real shame though, because they both give such excellent performances.

Musically, I wouldn’t exactly call it a masterpiece, but it fits the story and the characters perfectly, which is the only thing that matters to me. The songs are quite catchy though and I am sure I won’t get them out of my head for at least a couple of days. The only song I was familiar with beforehand is the last song, Happiness, which makes a quite moving conclusion. As much as I dislike the idea that everything must have a deep, meaningful and hidden message, I think this musical does with this song.

To sum up: entertaining, incredibly talented cast, nice story and songs, great choreography, what more could you possibly ask for?! It runs until the 30th October and you can book tickets online or call 0208 995 6035.

If happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you (to quote the last song), this production of You’re  A Good Man Charlie Brown IS happiness! It definitely made me happy.

Please note that I attended the second (and last) preview, so there still might be some changes!

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Honk!, Lost Theatre

23 Sep

Honk! is a musical by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and is an adaption of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. It is produced by Neil-Michael Marriott and plays at the Lost Theatre in Vauxhall. In 2000 it won an Olivier Award for Best Musical. As some other Stiles & Drewe musicals, Honk! is primarily aimed at children, but is so cleverly written that it appeals to all generations.

In this version, the Ugly Duckling is constantly teased by the other farmyard animals and is then lured away by a cat. He manages to escape and tries to get back to his mother, who was the only one who loved him despite of him being “different to the rest”. In the end he falls in love, is reunited with his mother and returns to the farmyard as a beautiful swan. So a typical fairy tale ending.

There are some lovely songs in the musical, my favourite is “Different”, which Ugly sings. It’s all about the fact that there is nothing wrong with being different, acceptance and tolerance. “Every Tear A Mother Cries”, sung by Ugly’s mother after he disappears is lovely too, as are the ensemble numbers, especially “A Poultry Tale”, “Hold Your Head Up High (Reprise)” and “Look At Him (Reprise).

The set is very simple as are the costumes. I loved the duck pond, though I felt that it looked all a bit unfinished. But sets and costumes are generally the least important factor for me. It leaves more room for imagination, but I also feel that a great production doesn’t need a fancy set/costumes to work. And Honk! in general and this production definitely don’t!

Once again, the cast is incredibly strong. First and foremost, this is true for Andrew Newton who plays Ugly. He’s got a nice voice and his Ugly was everything you’d imagine it to be and more. As I said before, “Different” was the highlight of the show for me.

Rhiannon Rose as his mother was incredible too. Wonderful voice and acting. The same is true for the other cast members Tobias James (Cat), Thomas Hewitt, Danielle Harding, Charlie England, Clare Reilly, Lindsay Richardson, Chris Carroll, Siobhan McConnon, Rachel Barker, Victoria Boden, Justine Lee, Holly Tyler and Christina Cuttell.

My only criticism is the sound. I found it very difficult to understand the lyrics sometimes, especially during ensemble numbers, because the actors were completely drowned out by the orchestra. It was particularly annoying because they were using microphones anyway, but I guess if that’s the only negative thing about the production it’s not too bad. I thoroughly enjoyed the show despite of it, it just bugged me.

Honk! finishes its run on 1 October. I’d definitely recommend it to everyone and bring your kids/friends/parents/grandparents along, too. It’s such a charming little show that will make you smile. Not one to be missed!