I work part-time at a group home for adults with serious mental illness. The organization makes an admirable effort to provide a variety of excursions and activities for the residents and occasionally, I am lucky enough to be invited along.
Our latest excursion was on a CAMH bus to Stratford Festival’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It was their first preview, but you’d never have known it.
The singing was amazingly strong and I was particularly blown away by Amy Wallis‘ high soprano notes as Sally Brown. I also loved that the choreography showed off the distinctive dance styles of the balletic Kevin Yee as Linus and the hip hopping Andrew Broderick as Schroeder in My Blanket and Me and Beethoven Day, respectively.
The videography contributed greatly to the atmosphere of comic strip vignettes and I especially enjoyed the panning Beethoven score during Schroeder, in which he practices piano. Also, the set and props made me wish that I was in Super Mario’s big world… perhaps with a hopping boot for transportation.
But by far, my favorite part of the show, amongst my vast bias, was Ken James Stewart. I am even more honoured to have trained at the same college as him after seeing his lovable Charlie Brown.
I was won during his humiliating non-encounter with the little red-haired girl and the subsequent bag on his head. And I loved him more throughout his immense struggle to joy, then failure in flying The Kite.
Charlie Brown endlessly inspires me because despite every instance of harsh criticism, tragic ineptitude, and epic failure, he maintains his ability to wholeheartedly hope beyond hope that his dreams will come true.