By Kenneth Jones
and Sean McGrath
08 Mar 1999
Linus may wait forever for the Great Pumpkin, but fans of the Broadway revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown need wait only until Mar. 9 for the original cast CD release of the show.
RCA Victor recorded the cast album Jan. 20, produced by songwriter Andrew Lippa, with Vincent Caro as engineer.
The revised revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown opened on Broadway Feb. 4. Previews began Jan. 23 following a fall 1998 pre- Broadway tryout.
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," "Suppertime" 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 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 opening title number is also augmented with a new sequence for Charlie Brown.
The 15-track CD includes pop arrangements of music over the "bows" and liner notes that feature complete lyrics. 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. The 28-year-old Chenoweth (Steel Pier, A New Brain,) earned rave reviews for her frisky performance as a funny, angry kindergartner. She became the production's breakout star; bets are on her for a Tony Award.
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.
For tickets call (212) 239-6200.