Original Off-Broadway Cast

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown [Original Off-Broadway Cast]

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Songwriter Clark Gesner managed to get a deal with the MGM Records subsidiary Leo to record an album of his songs based on the Peanuts cartoon strip in 1966. The next logical step was to build a stage production around the songs, which Gesner also succeeded in doing, starting on March 7, 1967, with a cast of six backed by piano and percussion at the tiny Theatre 80 St. Marks in New York's Greenwich Village. The result was a massive off-Broadway success that ran nearly 1,600 performances. It turned out that Gesner and his actors had captured the feel of the comic and that everyone in the audience was familiar with the material. The songs were simple and well suited to the characters, and it didn't matter much that there weren't any real singers in the cast. You'd think that would matter more on the original cast album (initially released on MGM Records), but it doesn't, because the characterizations are so strong. Okay, Reva Rose, who plays Lucy, can't carry a tune, but then that's appropriate to her character. Anyway, a lot of the material is half-spoken, and even the sung parts depend more on enthusiasm than skill. So, the cast album charms as much as the show did. On October 31, 2000, Decca Broadway reissued the album on a CD that contained as bonus tracks the four recordings Gesner made as a demonstration record to obtain the permission of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz to proceed with his original record. These tracks are very similar to the versions that turned up in the show itself, demonstrating that Gesner's conception carried through to production. [The 2000 Decca Broadway reissue includes four previously unreleased bonus tracks: "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," "The Doctor Is In," "My Blanket and Me," and "The Kite."]

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