Gilbert & Sullivan to Stage ‘Animal Farm’

February 19, 2011

1animalfarmposterThe Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda has cheerfully ignored W.C. Fields’ famous advice that actors should never work with animals or children — both are featured in its upcoming production, a musical version of George Orwell’s political satire “Animal Farm”.

Tickets for the show — which runs at City Hall from March 23-26 — go on sale next Friday [Feb. 25] at the musical theatre group’s website.

Adapted by Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall, the Gilbert & Sullivan production is a musical take on Orwell’s evergreen 1945 masterpiece, a barnyard allegory about authoritarian regimes and the corruption of revolutionary ideals.

The novel chronicles the revolution of animals on Manor Farm against owner Mr. Jones — and the disparities which subsequently emerge between them in what was supposed to be a newly-reformed society of equals.

When the animals take over the farm, they think this represents the start of a better life. Their dreams is of a world where all animals are equal and all property is shared. But soon the pigs take control and one of them, Napoleon, becomes the leader of all the animals. One by one the principles of the revolution are abandoned, until the animals have even less freedom than before. The original goal of equality is replaced by the brutal reality  ”All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”

The musical adaptation begins as a young boy takes the novel “Animal Farm” from his bookshelf and sits by his toy barnyard to read. While he does so, the barnyard becomes an imaginative set in which the barnyard animals seek to take over control of the yard. This Orwellian musical works remarkably well because, as one critic put it, “…the scale exactly matches the subject: what we get is not an epic truncated but an allegory visualized, with much of the narrative weight being carried being carried by Adrian Mitchell’s lyrics and Richard Peaslee’s subtly responsive music.”

This acclaimed show has been said to appeal to audiences of all ages, with something of substance at every level.

“We would love this production to reach as many people in Bermuda as possible as its a great family show (as well as educational) and has a broad cast of kids and adults,” said a Gilbert & Sullivan Society spokesman.

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