Happiness is…

Charlie Brown, in a scene from the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” delights in noticing that a certain red-headed girl he adores chews on her pencil. It’s an “Aha!” moment as he realizes the girl of his dreams is human, and perhaps approachable.

That moment, so tender and touching, leads to a song sung by Charlie Brown and friends–recounting all the simple things that bring them joy…

Happiness is finding a pencil/Pizza with sausage/Telling the time/Happiness is learning to whistle/Tying your shoes for the very first time….

It’s a song that always leaves me feeling whistful and optimistic, which is why I was so excited to learn that Chandler-Gilbert Community College performing arts department is presenting “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” starting tomorrow night, June 17, at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler.

The summer musical will be performed at 7:30pm on June 17,18,19, 21 and 22–with a 2pm matinee on Saturday, June 19. Tickets are just $10 general admission (seniors and students enjoy a discount).

If you’re not familiar with the show, or you’re unimpressed by my snippets from a single song, I’ll give you one very good reason you ought to see it…

The 1999 Broadway revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” was directed by Michael Mayer, who went on to win the 2007 Tony Award for “Best Direction of a Musical” for “Spring Awakening.” Just recently, Mayer was honored with the 2010 Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Direction of  Musical” for “American Idiot.”

If you haven’t heard of Mayer, perhaps you’re familiar with Kristin Chenoweth’s performance in “Wicked” or Anthony Rapp’s performance in “Rent.” Both appeared in the 1999 revival at the Ambassador Theatre in NYC.

Charlie Brown keeps amazing company, so go see the show for yourself. Visit www.cgc.edu/arts or call 480-732-7343 to learn more.

Another show with memorable tunes and the timeless ‘boy chases girl’ theme is “The Music Man,” which will be presented by the Paradise Valley Community College theatre department starting tomorrow night as well.

Mark Kleinman (L), Adam Shay and Kim Cooper-Photo courtesy of PVCC

Evening performances at the PVCC Center for Performing Arts begin at 7:30pm June 17-19 and 24-26. Matinees are at 2pm June 19, 20, 26 and 27. Tickets are $15 general admission (there are senior, student, staff and child discounts), and are available at 602-787-7738. For details, visit www.paradisevalley.edu.cpa.

Even those who’ve never seen a live production of “The Music Man” are familiar with many of its catchy tunes–from “Ya Got Trouble” and “Seventy-Six Trombones” to “Shipoopi!” and “Gary, Indiana.”

“The Music Man” has enjoyed not one, but two, Broadway revivals–taking to the ‘great white way’ in 1957, 1980 and 2000. Broadway casts have included Robert Preston, Barbara Cook, Dick Van Dyke, Christian Slater and many other popular performers.

This is an especially fun show to see with the family, because you can rent the movie version before or after seing PVCC perform it live and compare notes.

Both “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “The Music Man” are family-friendly and affordable, and attending one or both will help support the aspiring actors in our community who may well be the Kristen Chenoweths and Anthony Rapps of the future.

As much as I love more recent and controversial Broadway offerings, from “Spring Awakening” to “American Idiot,” there’s something to be said for theater as good, clean fun and family entertainment.

And how cool would it be to have your kids fall in love with “The Music Man” only to learn it first opened in 1957…


Photo credit: PVCC “The Music Man” cast photo (above) by Anastasia Campos


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