|ANIMAL FARM; THE MUSICAL|
REVIEW by Willard Manus
George Orwell's barnyard
fable about the God that failed, communism, was turned into a musical
back in 1984 (appropriately) by Peter Hall, Richard Peaslee (music) and
Adrian Mitchell (lyrics) for Britain's National Theatre. Now Theatricum
Botanicum has mounted an American version of the show, one which is a
bit ragged in spots (owing to its mixed amateur & professional cast),
but can still be recommended nonetheless. The lead performers, notably
Steve Matt as The Old Major, Jim LeFebvre as Napoleon, Melora Marshall
as Snowball, Melissa Thatcher as Muriel, Tom Allard as Boxer, and Earnestine
Phillips as Clover, acquit themselves well, despite the handicap of having
to wear masks while acting and singing. Actually, the show's masks and
costumes are of such a high order that they will undoubtedly win critical
prizes at year's end.
The music and lyrics are first-rate: simple but sardonic and witty. Ellen Geer's direction of ANIMAL FARM'S large cast is admirable and she has coaxed spirited performances out of her actors, who prance and dance, whinny and cluck, bleat and bellow with much gusto and realism, helped by Theatricum Botanicum's rustic setting.
Through September 29 at Theatricum Botanicum, 14l9 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. For tickets and scheduling information (also playing in rep are The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream), call (310) 455-3723.