Theater Review: You’re a Good Man in Beloit recommended

A long-time reader of Charles Schulz’s delightful comic strip and the adventures of Charlie Brown and friends, my experience at New Court Theatre could not have been better. Director Loren Sass compliments the cast and staff in his notes with the comment, “… (you will) leave the theatre with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.” We did.

Adults playing the roles of children might be a stretch, but the actors achieved this admirably. Eric Uppling is Charlie, and his portrayal is completely believable. From Charlie’s “Good grief!” to his interaction with the indomitable Lucy, he is Charlie Brown personified. Libby Amato is Lucy, the bossy, know-it-all with facial expressions duplicating the comic strip perfectly. Her brother, Linus, played by Alex Burkhart, with his security blanket, recalls so well our own children’s needs. Recreating the character of Snoopy is Nathan Burkhart. His “Supper Dance” becomes a Bob Fosse classic. The brothers Burkhart, still students at Webster University, are amazing. We’re looking forward to this summer’s Broadway Bound and their roles as Eugene and Stanley in the final production of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy.

As Sally, Amy Froiland literally becomes Schulz’s character. Not a moment on stage does she lose her focus. Her body language and facial expressions keep us in stitches. Of course, Shroeder (Aaron Sitrick) strives to bring a little culture to his friends. His inability to organize a chorus is a little like teaching cats to perform. There are so many pieces in the show representing the philosophy and wisdom we came to know every Sunday in the comic section that it would take pages to document them. Needless to say, I loved the show.

Directed by Loren Sass, a retired teacher of theater at Beloit Memorial High School, his vast experience is evident. His enthusiasm for every aspect of the show resonates. Musical Director Lannette Calhoun, Drummer Josh Calhoun and Violinist Zach Peterson provide excellent musical accompaniment.

Many theaters close for the summer, so it is refreshing to have venues that provide us with fine productions during this down time.

Josh Burton, founder and artistic director of New Court Theatre at Beloit College, offers some of the finest comedy, drama and musicals. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs through June 30. Tickets are available at (608) 363-2755 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). Charlie Brown and Friends is highly recommended!

from the June 27-July 5, 2007, issue

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