"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" by Charles M. Schulz & Clark Gesner
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You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a 1967 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in his comic strip Peanuts. The musical has been a popular choice for amateur theatre productions because of its small cast and simple staging.

John Gordon was credited with the book of the show, but according to Gesner's foreword in the published script, John Gordon is a "collective pseudonym" that covers Gesner, the cast members and the production staff, all of whom worked together to assemble the script.

During the early 1960s, Gesner had begun writing songs based on Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown comic strip characters but was unable to get permission from the United Features Syndicate to use the characters in his songs. Eventually Gesner sent Schulz a tape of some of the songs and Gesner soon had permission to record them, which he did in 1966. At the time, Gesner had no plans for a musical based on this pre-production "concept album." However, producer Arthur Whitelaw, who would later go on to write another musical based on Peanuts, encouraged Gesner to turn the album into a musical.

The stage adaptation of the concept album, entitled You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, went into rehearsal in New York City on February 10, 1967. Prior to its opening, the musical had no actual libretto; it was several vignettes with a musical number for each one.

Synopsis

Time: An average day in the life of Charlie Brown

ACT ONE

Charlie Brown stands alone as his friends give their various opinions of him, each overlapping the other. Today everyone is calling him a "good man". Charlie Brown is happy and hopeful as usual, but he nevertheless wonders if he really is what they say. He decides to find out how he can really become a good person ("Opening/You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown").

Alone one day, during lunch, Charlie Brown talks about his bad days. Then he notices the Little Red-Haired Girl and decides to go sit with her. However, he cannot find the courage to do so.

Lucy expresses her deep infatuation with Schroeder and asks him what he thinks of the idea of marriage. Schroeder is aware of her feelings, but remains aloof as he plays his piano. Lucy then exclaims: "My Aunt Marion was right. Never try to discuss marriage with a musician" ("Schroeder"). Sally is sad because her jump rope tangled up.

Snoopy is lying on top of his doghouse, relaxing vacantly and peacefully. He begins to daydream about being a wild jungle beast. In a few minutes, however, he is back to his peaceful state ("Snoopy"). Linus enters, holding his blanket and sucking his thumb. Lucy and Sally show up and mock him for this habit. Linus decides to abandon his blanket and move on, only to come running back to it in desperation. After the girls leave, Linus daydreams of a blanket fantasy where everyone can relax with their blankets ("My Blanket and Me"). Lucy later tells him that she would someday like to be a queen. However, Linus tells her that she can't and she threatens to punch him. Sally gets a C in her pathetic coat-hanger sculpture.

Charlie Brown appears, trying to get his unusually stubborn kite to soar in the air. Eventually, he succeeds in doing this, and he enjoys a few minutes of triumph before the notorious Kite-Eating Tree eats it up ("The Kite"). After this trauma, Charlie Brown tries to find the right way to give Lucy her Valentine's Day card, but he ends up saying "Merry Christmas", making a fool out of himself. He goes to see Lucy, who is at her psychiatrist booth. He tells her all the things he thinks of himself. Lucy then clears it up by saying that Charlie Brown is unique the way he is, then asks for the five cent price ("The Doctor Is In"). Later, Charlie Brown sees a happy Schroeder spreading the word of Beethoven's birthday and pulling together a celebration. He and company join Schroeder in the song of jubilation ("Beethoven Day").

At noon, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, and Charlie Brown are working on their Peter Rabbit book reports, each in his or her own way. Lucy is simply babbling to fit the 100-word requirement, Schroeder is doing a "comparison" between the book and Robin Hood, Linus is doing an overcomplicated psychological analysis, and Charlie Brown hasn't even started out of worry, while Sally and Snoopy chase rabbits ("The Book Report").

Musical Number Characters
"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" Entire Company
"Schroeder" Lucy, Schroeder
"Snoopy" Snoopy, Charlie Brown
"My Blanket and Me" Linus
"Kite" Charlie Brown
"Dr. Lucy (The Doctor is In)" Lucy, Charlie Brown
"Book Report" Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder

ACT TWO

Snoopy, in his World War I flying ace uniform climbs atop his doghouse. He goes through a scene, with him being a pilot searching for the Red Baron. In his imagination, he is defeated by the Red Baron and returns to the airdrome in France.

Sally is clearly cross about a D her teacher gave her on her homework assignment. In response, she says, "Oh, yeah? That's what you think!" Schroeder hears and asks why Sally is telling him that. It quickly becomes Sally's new "philosophy", and she bursts into song about her philosophies. Schroeder, after failing to explain to her how philosophies work, leaves in bafflement while Sally continues ("My New Philosophy").

Charlie Brown returns, and, with his friends, plays the Little League Baseball Championship. After some mishaps, the team finally manages to make some progress. Charlie Brown steps up to the plate, and despite his valiant efforts, strikes out and loses the game. We learn that this was a flashback, and Charlie Brown expresses his deep sorrow to his pen pal ("T-E-A-M (The Baseball Game)"). Lucy takes a crabbiness survey and Linus says that her crabbiness rating is ninety-five. After punching him, she realizes that she is an extreme crab.

Determined not to let what happened at the championship bother him, Charlie Brown decides to join Schroeder's Glee Club and cheer up by singing "Home on the Range" with his friends. Unfortunately, a fight ensues between Lucy and Linus over a pencil. The fight spreads, and Charlie Brown decides to leave with his angry friends, leaving Schroeder and Snoopy the only ones singing ("Glee Club Rehearsal").

Later, Charlie Brown comes across Lucy teaching Linus about nature the way she views it with such as bugs making the grass grow or eating eagles for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Charlie Brown tries to correct her, but she retaliates with a false explanation, and Charlie Brown bangs his head against a tree in frustration ("Little Known Facts"). That evening, Snoopy complains that he hasn't been fed yet, and begins to overcomplicate and dramaticize the matter until Charlie Brown shows up with his dinner. Snoopy bursts into song about his craving for supper until Charlie Brown firmly tells him to eat his meal ("Suppertime").

That night, Charlie Brown is sad that he still has not discovered what it means to be a "good man". He proudly displays a pencil which had been dropped by the Little Red-Haired Girl (his perennial crush). As he examines it, he discovers that "there are teeth-marks all over it … she nibbles her pencil … she's HUMAN!" With that realization, he concludes that today hasn't been so bad, after all, and he's done a lot of things that make him happy. As Charlie Brown expresses what makes him happy, everyone, touched by his love of life, begin to express what makes them happy as well ("Happiness"). Right then, Charlie Brown realizes that being a "good man" means trying your best and making the most of the things you've been given in life. As his friends leave the stage, Lucy walks over and puts out her hand, making him shrink back. As he reaches out, she shakes his hand firmly, then tells him, "You're a good man, Charlie Brown."

Musical Number Characters
"The Red Baron" Snoopy
"T.E.A.M. (The Baseball Game)" Entire Company
"Glee Club Rehearsal" Entire Company
"Little Known Facts" Lucy, Linus, Charlie Brown
"Suppertime" Snoopy
"Happiness" Entire Company

Characters

  • Linus
  • Charlie Brown
  • Patty
  • Schroeder
  • Snoopy
  • Lucy

Production History

Date Venue Company
Feb 4, 1999 Ambassador Theatre
Jun 1, 1971 John Golden Theatre
Feb 1, 1968 Fortune Theatre
Mar 7, 1967 Theatre 80 St. Marks
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