‘Peanuts’ gang is guilty pleasure

Stage Review

Kathryn Holtkamp (from left), Lina Krueger, Logan Heller, John Galvin, Kiegan Otterson and Dale Button delight and comfort in Kihei’s ProArts Playhouse’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Jack Grace photo

We all have slightly mindless, guilty pleasures. They might range from “I Love Lucy” re-runs to reality shows that star a Kardashian. It provides us with a respite, a chance to turn off our to-do list and just enjoy the brain candy.

ProArts Playhouse’s “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” is an escape, but it’s not exactly a guilty pleasure — it’s comfort food.

Although dramatic musical roles usually receive the biggest public accolades, Lina Krueger’s Lucy is unquestionably one of the finest performances of the season. I frequently praise Krueger’s stage work, but Lucy is one of her most memorable offerings.

Aside from Krueger’s genuine childlike portrayal, what allows “Charlie Brown” to take us back to our own childhood is director Ally Shore’s vision and ability to transform two dimensional memories into, at times, four dimensions. Her inventive prop creations and projection design is worth a trip to see the show alone.

Logan Heller’s Linus is another “Charlie Brown” highlight. Linus is often played as a know-it-all, but Heller chooses the more innocent know-it-some, making his blanket-clutching, little brother persona considerably more adorable.

John Galvin as a more aggressive Schroeder encompasses our adult observations skillfully. His “um, yeah … no” approach, especially towards Lucy and Sally (Kathryn Holtkamp), is accessible, hilarious and one step ahead of what the audience is thinking.

My personal favorite musical highlight of the show was Holtkamp’s “My New Philosophy,” opposite Galvin. Holtkamp has Sally’s sass locked in, and her solo stage moments evoke smiles, snickers and applause. In addition, her bugling and WWI cardboard triplane piloting skills surprise and delight.

Maui stage veteran Dale Button, who plays Snoopy, simply owns comedic solo stage moments more so than any other local performer, and “Suppertime” matches his previous musical-comedy show-stoppers.

In the leading role, Kiegan Otterson is the embodiment of our Charlie Brown preconceived notions. From the moment he takes the stage with his curlicue hairdo, his round face, and most importantly, his diplomacy and aspiration to do the right thing, Otterson is the main course of this comfort meal. In the “letter to a pen pal moment,” the cautious care he takes in answering Lucy’s “crabby” survey, and his longing to just say hello to the “cute little red-haired girl,” is beyond sweet — it’s cavity forming.

As light as you may assume “Charlie Brown” might be, it also contains more than a few touching moments, no more so than Krueger’s emotive final line — “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”

* ProArts continues “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” by Clark Gesner, directed by Ally Shore, with musical direction by Kim Vetterli. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays through May 13 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $26. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event, call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

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