George Orwell’s Animal Farm is getting another book-to-stage treatment in a musical by composer Alan Menken, lyricist Glenn Slater, and book writer James Graham. Menken and Slater have worked on a number of Tony-nominated shows together, including The Little Mermaid and Sister Act.
The Daily Mail reports the production is aiming for a spring 2021 workshop ahead of a West End bow. Adam Spiegel, artistically known as Spike Jonze, serves as the lead producer.
Animal Farm was published in 1945 and tells the story of the uprising of the animals of Manor Farm against their human, Farmer Jones, in the hope of creating a society where animals can be equal, free, and happy.
“It’s the oldest cliche in the world,” Olivier winner Graham (Ink, Quiz) told The Daily Mail. “Everyone always thinks that Orwell is more relevant and more resonant now than ever before. But I do think, with what’s been happening in America, and also here, we’ve moved into an age of populism, and the politics of the extreme—on the left and the right.”
As for the look of the show, Jonze hasn’t decided what form the animals will take on stage, but one thing is for certain: the producer does not want to use puppets.
This isn’t the first time Animal Farm has been brought to the stage. A popular adaptation opened in 1984 at London’s National Theatre from Peter Hall, Adrian Mitchell, and Richard Peaslee, and in 2014 Steppenwolf Theatre Company presented a new take on the work by Althos Low. A U.K. tour of the property, written and directed by1984's Robert Icke, is planned for 2022.