Video: What is PigPen Theatre Co.? Meet the Creators of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

Water for Elephants will open at the Imperial Theatre on March 21, 2024.

By: Mar. 02, 2024
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This spring at the Imperial Theatre, Sara Gruen's beloved novel Water For Elephants is getting the musical treatment, with a new book by Rick Elice and music by a band of musical storytellers known as PigPen Theatre Co. 

PigPen Theatre Co. began creating their unique brand of theatre, music, and film as freshmen at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2007. They have since performed, produced, and licensed their original plays in New York City and all over the world.

"We've strengthened our ability to collaborate from working with each other for so long. You have a safety net underneath you," Curtis Gillen told BroadwayWorld. "Somebody can take a song as far as they can go, but eventually they might run out of steam. It's so wonderful to have six other writing partners to come and pick it up and carry that ball for you. It's been wonderful to rely on and extrapolate upon each others ideas. Strength in numbers!"

PigPen’s debut album, “Bremen,” was named #10 album of the year in The Huffington Post’s 2012 Grammy preview sending PigPen on tour playing to sold-out crowds across the country. American Songwriter premiered their follow-up EP, “The Way I’m Running,” in 2013 while the band was playing a series of concerts that became one of the most popular residencies of the past decade at the legendary Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago. In 2015, PigPen released their sophomore album, “Whole Sun,” performed at Mumford & Sons’ return to the Gentlemen of the Road Festival and made their feature film debut in Jonathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash starring Meryl Streep.

In 2018, PigPen announced that they are creating two stage musicals based on beloved novels: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (which played at The Old Globe and Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2019) and Water for Elephants.

"When we started the first workshop, because we had the whole book to jump into, we all just sort of dove into the parts of the world/textures/sounds that we were the most interested in," explained Matt Nuernberger. "We started by saying: what are the textures of this world?"

"The cool thing about this show is that it is a massive tapestry of American music," added Dan Weschler. "We get to cover all kinds of stuff... and because it's a memory play that's set closer to the present, we also get to write music that is more in our contemporary folk style."

Learn more about Water For Elephants here and watch as the PigPen gang chats more about their vision for the new musical in this video.