May 30, 2020

Charlie Brown’s woe woos audience

The stage was set and audience members took their seats. It was 8 p.m. and it was time to start the show. The Don Evans Black Box Theater was full and everyone waited in anticipation to travel back in time to childhood and view TCNJ Musical Theater’s (TMT) production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” which ran Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

After the theater went dim, expecting a brief mundane announcement about turning off cell phones, the audience was suddenly surprised by the barks of Snoopy followed by Linus and Charlie Brown giving a taped audio introduction to the show.

This personal touch to the show only excited the audience about the childish fun that was ahead.

Unlike TMT’s past musicals, which were performed on the Kendall Hall Main Stage, “Charlie Brown” was set in the Black Box for a more intimate setting.

The theater, which holds about 135 audience members, was a perfect setting for the play since it allowed the actors to interact with the audience.

Throughout the musical, a close link existed between the actors and the audience, giving the production personality.

The actors exited and entered the scenes through different parts of the theater.

“I’ve never left a show feeling that happy,” junior secondary education/history major Alyssa Phillips said.

The childish innocence in the musical evoked a sense of happiness in the hearts of audience members.

Junior James Introcaso succeeded as the first student to direct a musical in decades at the College.

“I’ve never worked harder and I have never been so proud,” Introcaso said after the show. “It was so rewarding when people came up to me after the show and told me that it was exactly what they had needed. We’re glad we made people happy.”

Scott Sadowsky, production manager and president of TMT, added, “It was great seeing every night sell out before the show even opened on Wednesday.”

Along with Introcaso and Sadowsky, who led the cast and crew, Brian Michalowski was the musical director for the show.

Since Michalowski was the musical director of this play in high school, his experience and Introcaso’s dream combined to create a very cost-effective show with quality.

Since two students rather than two professionals directed the play, TMT has enough money saved to produce another musical in the spring – “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

Though a student-run play evokes a sense of inexperience, it was no amateur performance. The characters’ lively and energetic spirits pranced the stage with their lisps, their blankies and their stories of the trials and tribulations of childhood.

The bossy and forceful Lucy Van Pelt (Maria Aromando) tried to win the love of Schroeder, played by Andrew Timmes.

The ever-changing mood of Sally (Stayc Piecyk) and the self-conscious character of Charlie Brown (Vincent Scafuto, making his stage debut at the College) left no question to the level of acting involved.

Linus, played by John Fischer, sucked his thumb continuously throughout the play, making philosophical (and hilarious) observations about life.

But when one thinks about the “Peanuts” characters, it is Snoopy, Charlie’s lethargic best friend who lies atop his doghouse, that comes to mind. Jason Barrameda brought this misunderstood dog to life.

From Snoopy’s desires to bite someone to his wish to fly a plane, Barrameda’s spunk and wit gave the audience a taste of a dog’s life.

“Charlie Brown” left the audience with a feeling of nostalgia for the innocence of these 11 young children and a dog who work out their problems together and learn about life.

With a chorus line finale, the young children in their nightgowns and colorful slippers showed the audience that “happiness is anything and anyone at all that’s loved by you.”

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