The theme for April 2012 at Musical Cyberspace is “Single-Song Showstoppers”, a series of big numbers sung by a featured characters in a show – typically their only solo, although they might sing minor bits and pieces elsewhere – each of which raise the roof.
Today’s single-song showstopper is “Beethoven Day”, one of the new numbers written by Andrew Lippa for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, a musical comedy by John Gordon and Clark Gesner. The song offers Schroeder a definitive moment in the show that his spots in other numbers in the show didn’t give him. Stanley Wayne Mathis introduced this song to Broadway in the show’s most recent mainstream revival in 1999.
The Setup: Nothing profound here. It is Beethoven’s birthday and a jubilant Schroeder is spreading the word and getting everyone to celebrate the life and music of his idol.
The Song: When Andrew Lippa reworked the score for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, it’s as if he tried to turn every song into a showstopper. This didn’t really work on more modest numbers like “My Blanket and Me” and where it worked best of all was in the two original numbers he wrote for the show, the other of which was featured here earlier this month. That song, “My New Philosophy”, is much better and a tighter piece of character work than “Beethoven Day”, which strays a bit into the generic energy that is typical of Lippa’s shows. But that energy still delivers in spades, certainly here where the number’s skew logic fits fairly well into the world of the Peanuts gang. Stanley Wayne Mathis did quite well by it musically, but – like the song – he perhaps offers more generic energy than sharp characterisation in his performance. As such, his performance simply isn’t definitive in the way that Kristen Chenoweth’s is of “My New Philosophy”, but it’s still pretty entertaining.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on “Beethoven Day”. Click on the comments link at the end of this post and share them with us!