Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and Schroeder are back. The 1967 Off Broadway smash You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is now a Broadway show in a new revival at New York's Ambassador Theatre. Actually, semi-revival is more like it: The original script (book, music, and lyrics by Clark Gesner) has been augmented with two new songs by Andrew Lippa and many new scenes, drawn, as always, from the Charles Schulz comic strip.
This new Charlie Brown looks different as well. David Gallo's scenic design aims to reproduce precisely the look of Schulz's drawings, with iconic items such as Lucy's psychiatric booth, Schroeder's piano, and Snoopy's doghouse (pictured) set against backgrounds of saturated color. He is aided and abetted in this by Kenneth Posner's lighting design. An RP screen provides the backdrop for many of the play's short scenes; Posner created his color treatments with a combination of Altman T-3 striplights placed above and below the screen, with additional help from conventional units fitted with Wybron Coloram color scrollers. The LD also used color scrollers to create stage washes along with High End Systems Studio Spots(R). This strategy worked perfectly with Gallo's scenery to create the look of a pop-up comic strip.
With all that color onstage, Posner notes that he also "did a system of clear white to pop out the characters--I was always able to cut through the saturated color with white light." But in at least one instance, he used color to conceal: In the song "My Blanket and Me," Linus and his famed security blanket dance together. "To minimize the silhouette of the wire that controls the blanket, I put a saturated look on the drop, and then cut through it with a broken glass pattern which breaks it up enough so that you can't really detect the wire."
Charlie Brown had an old-fashioned Broadway tryout, with two-week stops in several cities before the New York opening in February. Since the show went through considerable revisions, the LD had his work cut out for him. "We'd get to a city, load in and focus, do a first preview, then open. The next day, we'd come in, throw out or put in a number, work like that for three or four days, then put it in a truck and go to the next city." Fortunately, he adds, "I designed the plot to be flexible." He also notes the contributions of his staff, including associate designer Alexandra J. Pontone, assistants Philip S. Rosenberg and Daniel Ordower, production electrician James Maloney, head electrician Bob Hale, assistant electrician Carlos Martinez, moving-light operator Ronald "Rocket" Jacobsen, and moving-light programmer Doug Gentile.
Populating Posner's plot are nearly 350 ETC Source Four and Source Four PAR units, plus 16 Altman PAR-64s, 20 Altman T-3 striplights, 46 Lighting & Electronics Mini-Strips, 16 L&E Cranny Fill lights, six L&E Mini-Tens, 16 L&E Broad Cycs, 20 High End Studio Spots, and two Lycian followspots. Also included are 114 Wybron Colorams and 20 Rosco Gobo Rotators. Morpheus Flip Box truss is also part of the lineup. The conventional units are controlled by an ETC Obsession 1500; a Wholehog II, from Flying Pig Systems, handles the moving lights.