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New Developmental Production of ANIMAL FARM: THE MUSICAL to be Presented at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center

The full-length musical dramatizes and musicalizes the story of farm animals who rebel against their human ruler and establish their own society.

New Developmental Production of ANIMAL FARM: THE MUSICAL to be Presented at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center

A new developmental production of Animal Farm: The Musical will be presented at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, BMCC Campus, from November 16 - 20, 2022, from creative team Steve Wallace (composer), Daniel Abrahamson (lyricist), Sarah Mucek (book writer) and Charles Anthony Burks (director). An adaptation of George Orwell's 1945 allegorical fable, Animal Farm: The Musical is all too relevant in 2022 as it warns against creeping authoritarianism and, as Abrahamson notes, the dangers we all face "when our history is rewritten by those seeking to rule."

The full-length musical dramatizes and musicalizes the story of farm animals who rebel against their human ruler and establish their own society where all animals are considered equal and they are governed by animals, for animals. Alas, the temptations of power soon erode the utopian animal society and a pig named Napoleon soon emerges as a charismatic but corrupt leader who uses disinformation, propaganda and the purging of political enemies to establish an ironclad hold on the farm and change the guiding credo from "All animals are equal" to "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Along the way, familiar characters are animated on stage including the demagogic Napoleon, the propagandist Squealer, the sage Old Major, and the workhorse Boxer.

The parallels to our current political reality are not hard to see. Wallace and Abrahamson were initially drawn to the enduring themes of the fable - and its lessons. "In the transference of power, the key should be service," says Wallace. "Otherwise we will find ourselves cyclically on an Orwellian Animal Farm where the ones who are supposed to represent us end up serving themselves and their interests, to the detriment to those who need to be heard."

For her part, Mucek was drawn to the social justice elements of the story, and how disenfranchised elements of society can be at the mercy of the prevailing power structure. "The person who was in power for your whole existence is gone. Now what?" she asks rhetorically. "Animal Farm shows how those who cannot conceive of holding power themselves always look to others to fill that role - and those others are in a position to take advantage."

The question of how information is shared, presented and distorted is a major theme in the production, from the stirring anthem "Beasts of England" that galvanizes the animals to revolution to the way information is parceled out to the animals by their leaders in truths and half-truths to the shifting animal-rule credo about who, exactly, gets to be equal.

Says Abrahamson: "Animal Farm, among other things, shows the grim nature of authority itself, and the muck we can find ourselves in when our history is rewritten by those seeking to rule."

Animal Farm: The Musical began as a collaboration between Wallace and Abrahamson in the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, the highly selective, invitation-only program widely regarded as the premiere training ground for emerging musical theatre creators. After an initial presentation at BMI in July 2020 and a successful developmental staged reading at Theatre Now in June 2021, Sarah Mucek joined the creative team as book writer. Mucek, who is also a member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, had previously collaborated with Abrahamson on the 2020 "Super School," an O'Neill Festival Semifinalist.

Director Charles Anthony Burks had previously collaborated with Wallace on another Theatre Now presentation, "Humpty's Hatching Day" prior to taking Animal Farm from staged reading to a developmental production at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. In an extra-special bit of casting, Wallace's 10-year old daughter, Ava, has joined the cast, playing a young filly named Winnie who is being told the story of Animal Farm by the old donkey Benjamin in a flashback. Wallace says Ava's story represents "the idea of why history must be told."

Wallace is excited for audiences to see the new and updated version of Animal Farm: The Musical in its first staged production. "I'm excited to share all the new rewrites and updates that Daniel and I have cooked up, and of course the wonderful reworking of the book by Sarah," said Wallace.



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