You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

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.
On March 7, 1967, the musical premiered off-Broadway at Theatre 80 in the East Village, featuring Gary Burghoff as Charlie Brown, Skip Hinnant as Schroeder, Reva Rose as Lucy, Bob Balaban as Linus, Karen Johnson as Patty (an early Peanuts character not to be confused with Peppermint Patty), and Bill Hinnant as Snoopy. Joseph Hardy directed and choreographer Patricia Birch was billed as “Assistant to the Director”. Joe Raposo, later of Sesame Street fame, was billed as “Music Director” and composer of incidental music for the show. This production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown lasted 1,597 performances, closing on February 14, 1971.
The story of the play itself is told through a series of vignettes that mimic the four-panel format used by the original cartoon strip, “Peanuts.” This panel format is supplemented with longer passages that are vaguely reminiscent of Shakespearean soliloquies and by musical interludes.
The scope of the play is described as an average day in the life of Charlie Brown and is broken into two acts. The play begins with Charlie Brown and Linus talking. “I really don’t think you have anything to worry about, Charlie Brown,” Linus says. “After all, science has shown that a person’s character isn’t really established until he’s at least five years old.”
“But I am five. I’m more than five,” laments Charlie Brown.
The play moves along quickly, introducing more of the “Peanuts” gang; Patty, Schroeder, Lucy, and Snoopy. All of the characters share their observations, largely unflattering, of Charlie Brown. Lucy, for example, discusses what she terms Charlie Brown’s “Failure Face.”
As the play progresses, the relationships of the “Peanuts” characters to one another are further expanded. To anyone who has followed the comic strip, these relationships will not provide any surprises. Included is Lucy’s infatuation with Schroeder and her perverse joy at tormenting Charlie Brown, Linus’s love of his blanket, Snoopy’s rich world of imagination, and, of course, Charlie Brown’s hopeless love-at-a-distance of the mysterious little redheaded girl.
The play concludes with the characters each listing the things that, for them, constitute happiness. Then, as the group leaves the stage, Lucy approaches Charlie Brown and shakes his hand. “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown,” she tells him.
Charlie Brown is left alone on the stage, with a faint smile forming on his face.

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