JAKES Theatre Company
JAKES is an acronym for Emory John Collinson, Jessica Gisin-Mosley, Ken Robinson, Angel Sosa, and Shannon Wallnutt. (You may have to fiddle around a bit to get the acronym.) These local theater veterans - all have appeared at the Fine Arts Center - recently banded together with the three-fold goal of providing learning experiences to aspiring young actors, to perform unfamiliar material, and to be affordable.
Their maiden voyage is first-rate community theater. The ensemble is tight. Gisin-Mosley's swift direction makes excellent use of the cozy space in the basement of The Classical Academy. Every word is clear, even in the ensemble songs, and the five-piece band directed by Susan Calvert is well-prepared.
The production also mixes adults and students well, with the adults doing the heavy lifting. Collinson's angst-ridden Charlie Brown gives the show its serious center: Today, this kid would probably be medicated. Robinson provides the show's high-point in "Snoopy," a languorous hymn to a dog's life, cutely accompanied by some hand-puppet birds - which are about the closest thing to high-tech in this production.
Gisin-Mosley's Sally is actually more forceful than Wallnutt's multi-layered Lucy, which is jarring to life-long "Peanuts" fans but probably won't bother anyone else. Besides, I'll never turn down an opportunity to hear Gisin-Mosley's soaring voice.
Trevor Miller's philosophical Linus stands out among the students.
I'm not a fan of Clark Gesner's show, which is basically a series of extended "Peanuts" cartoons set to bland music. Given my druthers, I'd choose a book of Charles Schulz's originals; given my second druthers, I'd watch one of the old TV specials. But "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" is too unpretentious to dislike, and it admirably fits JAKES' educational goal.
Final performances are 7:30 p.m. today and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Classical Academy, 975 Stout Road. Tickets are $8 adults/$5 seniors and military. Call 231-0441 for more information.