Stand By Me
Evanna Ramly | 08 Sep 2017 00:00
The colourful cast comprises (from left) Ivan Chan Atienza, Safia Hanifah, Benjamin Lin, Joel Wong, Izen Kong and Tria Aziz.

Revisiting the joys and pitfalls of childhood, Sifu Productions presents Clark Gesner’s vibrant masterpiece You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown this month. First staged off-Broadway at Theatre 80 in New York’s East Village in 1967, the musical is based on the famous Peanuts comic strip and features some of the most loved characters in cartoon history: Charlie Brown, Sally Brown, Lucy van Pelt, Linus van Pelt, Schroeder and, of course, Snoopy.

“We’ve always wanted to do a family or children’s theatre show,” says Freddy Tan, the musical’s director who is also the artistic director of Sifu Productions. “The Peanuts comic strip is something I grew up with and while I understand that kids nowadays may not be so familiar with Charlie Brown, they would at least know Snoopy. What’s more important is that their parents still remember these characters and feel the nostalgia.”

Tan points out that a lot of the themes portrayed are still relevant today and will resonate with adults and children alike. “To me, the strongest theme of the musical is happiness. Throughout the story, Charlie Brown always questions himself and towards the end, his friends help him realise that we do not need a lot of big things in life in order to be happy. Sometimes happiness is in the simple things that you already have.”

There is a strong message in Charlie Brown’s story that subtly addresses depression among children, a subject that was rarely discussed before. “Daily roadblocks for kids, such as dropping an ice cream or not being able to fly a kite, are a big deal to them. To them, it can feel like it’s the end of the world,” Tan notes. “What I like about the musical is that it shows them how you can go on with your life. The characters don’t cry or dwell on their problems; they always find a way to carry on.”

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