Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown
Super Summer Theatre / Hynes-Sight Entertainment
Review by Mary LaFrance

Harrison Langford, Alexis Fitting,
Armando Harlow Ronconi, Coree Davis,
Marissa McCoy, and Keith Dotson

Photo by Teresa Isgriggs
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown does not show its age. Even though it's a fun, feel-good musical, its underlying message to persevere through failures, loneliness, heartache, and self-doubt are just as important today—for children and adults—as they were when Charles Schulz first penned his "Peanuts" comic strip in the 1950s and when the musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1967.

There is no better evidence of this than the audience response to the Super Summer Theatre's current production at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, ably directed by Joe Hynes with musical direction by Nancy West. Emboldened by the informal atmosphere of the outdoor setting, and perhaps their pent-up pandemic-induced hunger for social interaction, audience members of all ages felt free to call out words of encouragement to Charlie and the gang.

The timelessness of this musical (book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, with additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa) comes from its ability to encapsulate the angst of growing up by evoking, through humor, the empathy that comes from self-recognition. The show's episodic structure—many short scenes that mimic the brevity of the comic strip itself, interspersed with longer scenes that build to substantial musical numbers—is well suited to a youthful attention span. Under Hynes' brisk direction, the short scenes move quickly from one to the next, without undue breaks in momentum.

The strength of Hynes' ensemble lies in their first-rate vocals. All of them are excellent singers, and they give the all-important lyrics the respect they deserve. (Credit should also go to sound designer Kat Gonzalez and audio engineer Rosio Medina. Unlike some past productions at the Ranch, the orchestra does not overwhelm the vocals.) All of the cast members are solid actors as well. They occasionally fall short in their comic delivery, especially in the scenes where, just as in the comic strips, there isn't really a punchline per se, just a moment of irony marked by a shrug or a sigh. While a few of the performers could use more stage presence, Marissa McCoy is a standout as Sally, most notably in a scene where she challenges the teacher who gave her a “C” on her art project. She is also a fine dancer, as is Armando Harlow Ronconi as Snoopy. Keith Dotson excels as Schroeder; his stoic frustration at his comrades' lack of music appreciation is palpable.

Cassie Lentz's charming set design emulates the distinctive style of Schulz's drawings, right down to the curlicues in the clouds. Her oversized armchair has just the right proportions to shrink the adult actors down to child-size. Her school bus is especially striking in its all-too-brief roll across the stage.

The show's producer, Hynes-Sight Entertainment, has wisely invested in a live band. The musicians' placement in full view on stage elevates the audience experience. Schroeder would be proud.

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs through July 31, 2021, Thursday - Saturday at 8 p.m., at the Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, 6375 NV-159, Blue Diamond NV. For tickets ($17.50, including fees) and further information, please visit Note that the park now charges attendees a $10 park entrance fee (cash only) per vehicle unless you have an annual state park permit.

Charlie Brown: Coree Davis
Sally Brown: Marissa McCoy
Snoopy: Armando Harlow Ronconi
Lucy Van Pelt: Alexis Fitting
Linus Van Pelt: Harrison Langford
Schroeder: Keith Dotson

Conductor/Keyboard: Nancy West
Reed: Zach Williams
Strings: Arturo Hernandez
Bass: John Kuhlman
Percussion: Manny Gamazo

Additional Creative:
Choreography: Teresa Isgriggs
Lighting Design: Andy Killion
Costume Design: Abby Stroot