By Kenneth Jones
and Sean McGrath
04 Feb 1999
Time for opening, already -- "Good Grief!"
The revised revival of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown will open on Broadway on Feb. 4. Previews began Jan. 23 following a fall 1998 pre-Broadway tryout.
The show, starring Rent veteran Anthony Rapp in the title role and directed by Michael Mayer (A View From the Bridge, Side Man, Triumph of Love), plays at Broadway's Ambassador Theatre (219 West 49th Street).
Featuring book, music, and lyrics by Clark Gesner, YAGMCB is based on the long-running Charles M. Schulz comic strip, "Peanuts," which features such timeless characters as sad-sack, depressive, Charlie; his mean-spirited foil, Lucy; the blanket-toting Linus and piano-playing Schroeder. Begun Oct. 2, 1950, the strip now appears in more than 2,600 newspapers internationally.
The musical opened Off-Broadway at Theatre 80 St. Marks, on March 7, 1967 and comprises loosely arranged songs and vignettes -- a slice of the lives of these elementary-school-aged characters. The St. Marks production ran 1,597 performances. Songs include "Happiness," "Book Report" and "My Blanket and Me." In 1971, the original production transferred to Broadway's John Golden Theatre, where it only lasted 32 performances. The original cast recording of the score was released in 1967 by MGM.
For the new revival the show has been considerably reworked, with two new songs by Andrew Lippa (composer of john and jen) added, as well as additional music, a new character, and 23 new vignettes by Mayer from original Schulz strips written since 1967.
The two new songs include one for Kristin Chenoweth's character, Sally (a role created for this production) entitled "My New Philosophy" and an additional song for the piano-playing character, Schroeder (Stanley Wayne Mathis), "Beethoven Day." Sally was added in favor of the previous production's amalgam character, Patty.
New music has also been composed by Lippa for the show's title character, played by Rent veteran Anthony Rapp. According to press representative Jim Byk, the music doesn't really add up to a song -- "more of a brief musical phrase" -- and has been inserted just before the opening number.
RCA Victor recorded the cast album of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown Jan. 20, with a release date of March 1999. The recording is produced by Lippa, with Vincent Caro as engineer.
For tickets call (212) 239-6200.