You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
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You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown actually began life in 1966 as a record album (MGM 900), Clark Genser's collection of songs based on Charles Shultz's popular Peanuts comic strip. It was expanded into an off-Broadway musical in 1967, retaining the loose structure of the songs in a series of vignettes, and ran over 1, 500 performances. Annotator Mike Isaacson claims it is "the most produced musical in history," in part, no doubt, because the subject matter concerns children, the songs are simple, and the cast has only six characters, making it ideal for schools. The Broadway revival mounted in 1999, though not a financial success, was probably a good idea because it afforded an opportunity to revise and update the work to make it even more acceptable to those schools. Director Michael Mayer rewrote much of the libretto and brought in musical supervisor Andrew Lippa, who wrote new arrangements for half the songs and added two new ones, "Beethoven Day," which found Lucy using such contemporary slang as "Whatever," and the excellent "My New Philosophy," a song for the newly added character of Sally. On this cast album, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown comes full circle to be a record again (for the fifth time), and it remains charming, with a good cast featuring Anthony Rapp as Charlie Brown, B.D. Wong as Linus, and Kristin Chenoweth as Sally. Despite the revisions, it will never be Rugrats (which is okay with most listeners), and that may keep it from repeating its '60s success, but it remains an ingenuous piece.
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