You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a musical comedy based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in his comic strip Peanuts. It originally premiered off-Broadway March 7, 1967 by Bob Balaban and Gary Burghoff, and first appeared on Broadway in 1971. The score was written by Clark Gesner.
The musical was adapated for television in 1973, and a prime-time animated TV special based on the musical, also called You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, was aired on the CBS network in 1985.
Charlie Brown is a rather simple soul who is considered to be stupid, clumsy and destined for failure by his friends Patty, Linus, Schroeder, Lucy and his dog Snoopy. The lights rise to full as the company sings the title song which attempts to make Charlie feel good about himself (YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN). Charlie, left alone clutching his lunch bag, soliloquizes on the contents of his lunch and the little red-headed girl he wants to speak to. As he builds his courage, he realizes she is watching him and puts his lunch bag over his head. Lucy and Patty enter discussing a dress and proceed to draw a design on Charlie’s bag without noticing him. He stands, speaking through the bag, about his dilemma. He finally removes the bag and sadly walks off as Beethoven’s "Moonlight Sonata" is heard and the lights rise on Schroeder who is sitting at a box which resembles a piano. He is absorbed in his playing and Lucy tries to get him to manifest some interest in her (SCHROEDER).
Various characters comment on events in their daily lives. Lucy greets Snoopy, but is unable to kiss him because she is repelled by the thought of kissing a dog. Linus questions the meaning of happiness and Lucy asks a disturbed Schroeder how he would feel about selling his piano to buy saucepans for their future kitchen. Schroeder collapses as Snoopy imagines he is a fierce animal. Charlie Brown tells Snoopy he will be back with his supper and Snoopy thinks about his winning personality (SNOOPY). Charlie Brown enters with his paper bag, talking about introducing himself to the little red-headed girl. He realizes it’s impossible and exits. Snoopy looks up to grimly face the fact he is a dog and can’t advance further. Linus sits to watch TV while clutching his blanket. He gradually overcomes his dependency and casually walks away only to return to it (MY BLANKET AND ME). Lucy enters, forces her brother to change channels and tells him she is going to be a queen when she grows up. He attempts to tell her that queen is an inherited title, but she angrily retorts it’s undemocratic and she will find a loophole. Charlie enters with an invisible kite and struggles to get and keep it airborne (KITE SONG).
Everyone is exchanging valentines and Charlie is upset to discover Snoopy has received a ton of valentines while Charlie hasn’t even received one. In desperation, he seeks help from Lucy, who considers herself an amateur psychiatrist (THE DOCTOR IS IN). Feeling much better, Charlie thanks Lucy for her friendship. She responds by charging him five cents for her advice. Schroeder, Linus, Lucy and Charlie Brown enter with pencils and "notebooks" and sit in various places around the stage as they prepare to write their homework (BOOK REPORT).
Atop his doghouse, Snoopy is dressed as a World War I flying ace in search of the Red Baron (THE RED BARON). Patty enters and orders Snoopy to join her in a rabbit hunt. He goes through the motions, but falls in front of her in feigned exhaustion. She congratulates him for his spirited effort and exits. As the manager of the baseball team, Charlie attempts to give the group the desire to win, despite Lucy’s disparaging remarks (THE BASEBALL GAME). Charlie Brown, the last man at bat, sees the little red-headed girl and strikes out as the team sadly leaves. Schroeder tells Lucy, as a favour, that she has a "crabby" personality. She is quite angry but decides to take a personality rating poll. She corners Charlie Brown to ask his opinion. He is extremely uncomfortable and attempts to evade her questions, but responds with nebulous answers in order to stave off Lucy’s wrath. Linus ranks her at a 95% on crabbiness and she slugs him but has regrets and begins to admit she is a terrible person. She is bemoaning her personality when Linus tells her he loves her. She happily bursts into tears and the two exit.
Several vignettes follow. Schroeder leads everyone in choir practice but an argument ensues and he is unable to keep order (GLEE CLUB REHEARSAL). Lucy enters with Linus to undertake the job of teaching him about life (LITTLE KNOWN FACTS), but she is interrupted by Charlie Brown who is appalled at her lack of honesty. Snoopy imagines that Charlie Brown has forgotten to feed him and dramatically soliloquizes. When his supper finally arrives, he bursts into song (SUPPERTIME). At the end of the day the group relaxes and defines their own meaning of happiness (HAPPINESS).
In the 1999 Broadway revival, the role of Patty was replaced by Charlie Brown's sister, Sally. Two new songs were included: BEETHOVEN DAY was lead by Schroeder as a testament to his favourite composer and MY NEW PHILOSPHY was sung by Sally, as she explained her outlook on life to Schroeder.
List of songs
The Broadway revival
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown was brought back to Broadway in 1999. Roger Bart as Snoopy, and Kristin Chenoweth as Sally Brown (replacing the character of Patty), received Tony awards for their performances. The musical was also nominated for, but did not receive, a Tony for best revival of a musical. New dialogue was provided by Michael Mayer and the additional songs, as well as new orchestration for several existing songs, were provided by Andrew Lippa.
1999 revival cast: