Follow TV Tropes


Theatre / You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Go To

"Happiness is morning and evening
Daytime and nighttime, too
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That's loved by you"

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a comedic stage musical inspired by Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts, with music and lyrics by Clark Gesner and book by "John Gordon" (a pseudonym for the cast and crew, who worked together to select and adapt dialogue from the original comic strips). The musical consists of a series of vignettes centered around Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang.

First performed off-Broadway in 1967, with Gary Burghoff (who would go on to play Radar O'Reilly on M*A*S*H) heading up the cast as Charlie Brown and a young Bob Balaban playing Linus. It has been adapted to television twice, first as a live-action Hallmark Hall of Fame production in 1973 and again as an animated special in 1985 as part of the Bill Meléndez and Lee Mendelson canon of Peanuts television specials. It returned to the stage as a Broadway revival in 1999, which starred Anthony Rapp as Charlie Brown, Roger Bart as Snoopy, and Kristin Chenoweth as Sally (the latter two earned Tony Awards for their performances); and once more off-Broadway in 2016, a production that broke with tradition by casting child actors in all the roles.

Trope Namer for Little Known Facts.

Tropes for Various Incarnations:

  • Adapted Out: The comic strip's large cast is condensed to just Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and either Patty or Sally. Frieda and Shermey also get mentions, but never appear. Some productions have other characters appear as a background chorus, though.
  • Aesop Amnesia: After conducting a "crabbiness survey", Lucy has a despairing Heel Realization about how crabby she is, and the next scene opens with Schroeder remarking that she must know now that she can't be crabby anymore. Seconds later, Lucy enters furiously chasing Linus, demanding back a pencil he took from her, and threatening to tell Patty (or Sally) something he said about her if he doesn't.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-universe, Linus posits for his book report that Peter Rabbit is a Nice Guy rather than a Villain Protagonist, who is driven by Sibling Rivalry peer-pressure to steal from Farmer McGregor, whom Linus believes is an Anti-Villain "farmer and humanitarian".
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Lucy and Linus, first when Lucy is depressed about the results of her "crabbiness survey" and Linus comforts her, and later when they sing that happiness is "having a sister, sharing a sandwich, getting along!"
  • Bait the Dog:
    • Lucy with Damned by Faint Praise cheers up Charlie Brown at her psychiatry booth, after giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. When he calls her a "true friend," she charges him five cents.
    • In the show's original version (though not the revival), at the end of the title song, Lucy sings along with the others telling Charlie Brown "You could be king," but then she adds "...if only you weren't so wishy-washy!"
  • Berserk Button: Lucy asks Schroeder if piano players make a lot of money. He does not take well to this question.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Lucy's "Little Known Facts"; she claims that snow comes up during winter, among other things.
    • Schroeder, for his book report on Peter Rabbit, summarizes the plot of Robin Hood instead, adding that "Peter Rabbit did sort of that kind of thing too."
    • When Lucy finds out that Charlie Brown has a secret wish (to be nicknamed "Flash"), she begs him to tell her what it is, promising that she won't give it away. Later, when she asks Linus to rate her crabbiness on a scale of 0 to 100, she promises that she won't slug him if he gives an honest answer. She breaks both promises instantly.
  • The Bus Came Back: Linus's crush Janice, who appeared only in the 1990 TV special Why, Charlie Brown, Why? and did not recur afterward, returns in some contemporary stagings of the musical, albeit in a non-speaking background role.
  • Butt-Monkey: Charlie Brown, as per usual. Doesn't stop him from trying his best to succeed.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: In "Glee Club Rehearsal", when Lucy and Linus are fighting over a pencil, she threatens to tell Patty (Sally in the revival) what he said about her. In the end she reveals that he called her an enigma, which shocks everyone. Patty (or Sally) becomes really upset, but then asks "What's an enigma?" No one else knows either.
  • Character Exaggeration: In the comic strip, while Linus freaks out whenever his blanket is lost or forcibly taken from him, he doesn't need it at every moment and is often shown without it. Here, in "My Blanket and Me," he has a panic attack just from leaving it on the floor for a few seconds.
  • Completely Off-Topic Report: The kids have to write a report on The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Schroeder writes about Robin Hood, valiantly attempting to tie it into Peter Rabbit in the final line.
  • Composite Character: In the show's original version, Patty (not Peppermint Patty), a Generic Girl from the strip's early years who was eventually Demoted to Extra, serves as a stand-in for all the strip's non-Lucy girls, with a lot of Sally's Cloud Cuckoo Lander tendencies and with Frieda's eagerness to get Snoopy to chase rabbits. In the 1999 revival, Sally takes her place with her own personality from the strip, but she also takes on Frieda's "rabbit chasing" with Snoopy.
  • Damned by Faint Praise:
    • Schroeder says that he "marvels" at Charlie Brown's "consistency" for having "never hit a home run" or "never struck out a hitter."
    • Lucy after her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Charlie Brown says that while he won't ever be "happy like Snoopy or lovely like me, you have the distinction to be, no one else but the remarkably unique Charlie Brown!"
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The opening line of Schroeder's book report is "The name of the book about which this book report is about is Peter Rabbit, which is about this rabbit."
  • Drama Queen: Snoopy. When Charlie Brown is late with supper, Snoopy thinks he's going to starve and become a pile of "bleached puppy bones."
    • Sally tells a long-winded story about purchasing an ice cream cone, only to end up dropping it on the ground. She concludes: "Don't tell me my life isn't a Shakespearean tragedy."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Because the show was written fairly early in the comic strip's nearly 50-year run, it contains a little of this. The song "Little Known Facts" reflects the ditzy tendencies that Lucy had in the '50s and early '60s comics, which by the '70s were mostly phased out of her character. The original 1967 version of the show also stands out with its inclusion of Patty as a major character, though the Animated Adaptation and 1999 revival script both replace her with Sally. Some other major characters introduced from the late 1960s onward, such as Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Rerun, have only non-speaking background appearances or don't appear at all.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Charlie Brown at the baseball game. As well as Charlie Brown trying to fly a kite.
  • From the Mouths of Babes:
    • Linus's detailed analysis on Peter Rabbit, discussing the implications of an "otherwise moral rabbit to perform acts of thievery" under peer pressure.
    • Lucy has this gem after Schroeder silently reacts to her proposition of marriage: "My Aunt Marion was right. NEVER discuss marriage with a musician!"
  • Go Mad from the Apocalypse: Discussed and Played for Laughs at the end of "My New Philosophy" (added post-revival), though the apocalypse here was only hypothetical.
    Sally: You know, someone has said that we should live every day as if it were the last day of our life.
    Lucy: This is it? Help me! Help me! I've only got twenty-four hours left to live! AAAAAAAAAA!!! [runs offstage]
    Sally: [beat] Clearly, some philosophies aren't for all people...
  • Happy Dance: Snoopy does one, along with a song, when Charlie Brown brings his supper.
  • Head Desk: Charlie Brown bangs his head against a tree when he can't reason with Lucy about how her "Little Known Facts" are wrong. She tells Linus he's doing it to loosen the bark so the tree will grow faster.
  • Jerkass Realization: Lucy ends up in Heroic BSoD when she realizes that she is a crabby person and no one likes her. When Linus comes to comfort her, she asks what about her is good. He says that her having a little brother who loves her is good, which makes her burst into relieved tears.
    Linus: [as Lucy sobs in his arms] Every now and then I say the right thing.
  • Just the Way You Are: Lucy tells Charlie Brown during his therapy session that he is himself and that is something in which he should take pride.
  • Little Known Facts: The Trope Namer is Lucy's song in which she "teaches" Linus (among other things) that fir trees give fur, that bugs make the grass grow by tugging the blades, that sparrows are small eagles, and that snow comes up out of the ground.
  • Mundane Luxury: "Happiness" is an entire song about this trope, which is about the gang finding pleasure in the little things, like "tying your shoelace for the very first time" or "five different crayons." Justified as all the kids are really young, and Charlie Brown is usually a Butt-Monkey.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: One number is a complex, metaphor-laden quartet, crossing multiple musical styles, and has at one point four main characters singing four different melodies with four different texts, reaching an intense musical climax and showing off the vocal talents of the soprano lead. The subject of the song? A 100-word book report on Peter Rabbit. It predated "Bohemian Rhapsody" by eight years.
  • Ode to Food: After complaining about the lack of dinner, Snoopy sings a theatrical song called "Suppertime" when Charlie Brown finally feeds him.
  • Padding the Paper: Charlie Brown and his friends are assigned to do a book report on The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Two of them follow this trope in some way:
    • Lucy pads the assignment by adding unnecessary information (such as that the rabbit was named Peter) and by listing all the vegetables in Mr. McGregor's garden. When she reaches the end and still has about five words to go, she just plugs the space with a number of "very"s between "the end."
    • Schroeder has difficulty finding anything to say about Peter Rabbit, until he says the book reminded him of Robin Hood. At which point he goes on a very lengthy and enthusiastic tangent about Robin Hood, occasionally making a token effort to connect it back to Peter Rabbit ("Away they ran... just like rabbits...").
  • Pet the Dog: Lucy does a Title Drop to Charlie Brown in Sincerity Mode at the end of the musical.
  • Stargazing Scene: At the end of the play, Linus, Lucy and Sally are admiring the stars, with Sally and Linus wondering what exactly they're looking at.
    Linus: It could be a star, or maybe even a satellite.
    Sally: It could be a satellite! I wonder...
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Charlie Brown while in therapy gives himself one, and then Lucy follows up with an even worse one, calling him, "stupid, self-centered and moody".
  • Take That!: It is clear from the jump with her book report that Lucy really did not think fondly of The Tale of Peter Rabbit:
    Lucy: Peter Rabbit is this stupid book about this stupid rabbit who steals vegetables from other peoples' gardens!
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After living his, well, usual life, Charlie Brown cheers up after picking up the Little Red-Haired Girl's pencil, and deciding "it wasn't such a bad day after all."
  • Title Drop: The final line of the show (and spoken by Lucy, of all people!).
  • Vignette Episode: Most of the songs and cutaway scenes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Subverted, Charlie Brown tries to call out Lucy for telling Blatant Lies, but she refuses to listen to him.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Charlie Brown manages to get his kite to stay in the air—for a few minutes.

Tropes for the Animated Adaptation:

  • Adapted Out: Patty. Sally replaces her in most scenes, while Marcie replaces her in one.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: A minor bit: Charlie Brown actually does start his book report at the end of the song rather than put it off until the next day.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: During the baseball game, we see the scoreboard and that Charlie Brown's team is tied with the visitors.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Averted. The kids who play the characters can't all reach the high notes, but their voices crack naturally.
  • Imagine Spot: Snoopy has a Disney Acid Sequence during "Suppertime". Even dancing bunnies get into the act.
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: Schroeder writes his book report on an eighties personal computer, providing both visuals for his Verbal Backspaces (he hits the delete key) and a fun visual because he sits at it exactly the way he sits at his piano.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: As a result of Marcie taking Patty's role during the Valentine's Day scene, she's shown as having no valentines for Charlie Brown, despite being shown a majority of the time defending Charlie Brown and oftentimes having a crush on him.
  • Silent Snarker: Schroeder makes a series of priceless expressions as Lucy professes interest in marrying him.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Snoopy, from the perspective of longtime Peanuts animation fans. Unlike the cartoons' usual Speechless portrayal of Snoopy, both this musical and the other Peanuts stage musical Snoopy!!! have him talk and sing to himself (though never to the kids), representing his Thought Bubble Speech from the comics. Rather than cut his lines or his songs, the Animated Adaptations of the two musicals are the only two Peanuts cartoons to have Snoopy's thoughts expressed in voiceover. In You're a Good Man... he's voiced by Robert Towers, while in Snoopy!!! he's voiced by Cam Clarke.

Tropes for the Broadway Revival:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Charlie Brown has an extra solo in the opening where he finds it hard to believe that the kids are calling him a "good man" and that he wants to keep trying no matter how many times he fails.
  • Adapted Out: Patty. Sally replaces her, as in the animated version.
  • Character Exaggeration: B.D. Wong played Linus with a pronounced lisp, despite his never really being portrayed as having one in the comic strip or the animated shows. It was apparently inspired by the slight lisp that Christopher Shea had when he played the role in A Charlie Brown Christmas, but Wong's affected lisp was much stronger than Shea's real one.
  • Colorblind Casting: African-American Stanley Wayne Mathis played Schroeder, and Chinese-descended B.D. Wong played Linus.
  • Hidden Depths: Schroeder reveals he has a knowledge of philosophies and how men live by them when talking with Sally.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Ilana Levine, Lucy's actress in the Broadway revival, deliberately made her voice scratchy and annoying.
  • Late for School: Charlie Brown risks this (though manages to avert it) in the opening number.
    Schroeder: Get on the bus!
    Lucy: Get on the bus!
    Linus: Go ahead, get on the bus, Charlie Brown!
    Sally: Don't wanna be late for school!
    All: That's right!
    Charlie Brown: Don't wanna be late!
    All: Don't wanna be late for school!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Sally hits a graceful high note in "My New Philosophy", she stops in awe at the sound that comes out of her mouth.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Schroeder turns Beethoven's birthday into this, getting the whole cast involved in brainstorming how to promote "Beethoven Day".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Youre A Good Man Charlie Brown


Peter Rabbit(?)

Schroeder is tasked with writing a book report on Peter Rabbit, but having never read it, he ends up writing a book report on Robin Hood instead, vaguely trying to tie it back to Peter Rabbit.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / CompletelyOffTopicReport

Media sources: