The Animals’ Tale – abridged

A musical play relating Christmas as told by the animals

music and lyrics by Julie Argyle-Cross

at_image2 Synopsis

Characters

Setting

Sample Teaching Tracks

Sample Backing Tracks

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SYNOPSIS

The Animals’ Tale is the traditional Christmas story as told through the eyes of the animals. The story begins with the census ordered by Caesar Augustus (“Census”). Everyone had to return to their hometown to be registered. Joseph was a descendant of David and needed to travel to Bethlehem with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage. The journey was over 100 miles, and their poor donkey had to work very hard to carry Mary and the provisions (“The Donkey’s tale of woe”). He talked to them, man to man, complaining loudly, but they only heard ‘Hee-haw’.

Next we visit the sheep on a hillside near Bethlehem. They sing a ragtime song (“What the sheep saw”), describing the angels’ appearance before the shepherds, and how frightened they were. The shepherd’s get a guersney too, with their own swing song (“What was that?”). They gather together some gifts and hurry down to Bethlehem to see the baby.

In the stable all is quiet and Mary is singing a lullaby to her tiny, newborn baby (“Mary’s Lullaby”). When the shepherds and their flock arrive at the stable the other animals are horrified. The stable is already full to overflowing! The cow and the ox rally the other animals for support (“No room!”). They are very relieved when only the shepherds venture inside, bringing their humble gifts, and do not overstay their welcome.

Meanwhile, the 3 Magi have been traveling from a distant country, at first on horseback, and now by camel. The three camels feel that their species has wrongly gained a reputation for being bad-tempered and uncooperative. They try to set it to rights (“We’ve got the hump”). In the Finale we see all the characters gathered together to celebrate the birth of the baby, Jesus (“Sing Hallelujah!”).

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CHARACTERS

Joseph
Mary
Donkey (solo)
Sheep
Angels
Shepherds (including 6 solo parts)
Mice
Cow (solo)
Ox (solo)
Animals in the stable
Doves
3 camels (sing as a trio)
3 Magi (sing as a trio)

CHORUS

Large chorus (possibly all classes in the Junior Primary area) representing sheep, angels, mice, doves and other animals in the stable

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SETTING

A hillside near Bethlehem and a stable in the town

DURATION

Approx. 30 minutes

NOTE: There are two versions of this musical play; they are essentially the same except that this abridged version has fewer songs and less dialogue than the full version of The Animal’s Tale.

SET

The stable will be indicated on one side of the stage, perhaps on the diagonal.

The other half of the stage could be set up with stage blocks to indicate the hillside for the shepherds, and traveling area for the Magi.

COSTUMES

These would be traditional Bible story style for the people and angels.

Animals can be simple or elaborate, e.g.

  • tights, plain T-shirt (of a colour to suit the animal)
  • a head-dress or mask

USE OF TEACHING AND BACKING TRACKS

We recommend that during the rehearsal period the performers become less and less dependent on the teaching tracks, so that they are ready to perform the show with the backing tracks only.

The teaching tracks have all the individual vocal musical numbers provided, but do not include incidental music or reprises. As such, the teaching tracks cannot be used for a performance.

The backing tracks have all the musical numbers, plus incidental music, separately provided in order, allowing the tracks to be run through sequentially, with appropriate pauses for dialogue.

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Script, Score, Teaching and Backing Tracks,
Copying and Performing Rights
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SAMPLE TEACHING TRACKS

1. “Census”

2. “The donkey’s tale of woe”

3. “No room”

4. “Sing hallelujah”

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Script, Score, Teaching and Backing Tracks,
Copying and Performing Rights
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SAMPLE BACKING TRACKS

1. “Census”

2. “The donkey’s tale of woe”

3. “No room”

4. “Sing hallelujah”

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Script, Score, Teaching and Backing Tracks,
Copying and Performing Rights
ALL AVAILABLE NOW – SHOP HERE