Comrades gather to give 'Animal Farm' a musical makeover
Tuesday 27 July 2010
A bleak warning about the dangers of Stalinism told through the perspective of a farmyard of mutinous pigs may not seem the most heartening setting or subject for a West End musical.
But in the hands of Sir Elton John and Lee Hall, the award-winning creators of the musical version of Billy Elliot, George Orwell's dystopian novella, Animal Farm, is to be revitalised in an all-singing, all-dancing production for the stage.
Hall reportedly deemed the novella "perfectly suited for the stage", with its assortment of "pigs and other four-legged friends", explaining that famous lines such as "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" lend themselves to lyrics particularly well.
Orwell's classic 1945 work, a lesson in the corrupting nature of power, is studied by English literature students across the country for its elaborate allegorical references to Stalinist Russia. It features three pigs called Napoleon, Squealer and Snowball, who overthrow the drunken leader of the farm, Mr Jones, and establish the "seven commandments of Animalism", a moral code for inhabitants. But as time goes on, the pigs embark on their own reign of terror.
An incendiary tract when it was first published, the CIA is believed to have been covertly involved in buying the film rights from Orwell's widow, Sonia, enabling the production of the 1954 cartoon.
Yesterday, Sir Elton' s publicist confirmed that the singer, who collaborated with Hall on the globally successful stage production of Billy Elliot, was keen on bringing the book to the West End. "I know Elton is interested but this is months or years off. Nothing is certain at the moment," he said.
It is hoped that Sir Elton will write the musical score, as he did for Billy Elliot, with his partner, David Furnish, producing and Lee writing the lyrics.
As the news spread across the internet yesterday, enthusiasts on the blogging website Twitter offered suggestions to Sir Elton for possible song titles, including "I'm Still Stalin", and "Don't go braking [sic] my cart".
Hall reportedly said the musical was unlikely to open to audiences for two years, adding that he was "deep into it, writing songs for pigs and other four-legged friends". It took producers two years to secure rights to adapt the book to the stage.
He said: "We almost gave up, but there was always that one last licence to go after." He hinted that he would work on writing the lyrics first, which would then be passed on to Sir Elton.
"Having worked with him on Billy Elliot, I know that Elton likes to have the lyrics done and have them in front of him so I'll work on a batch before I give him anything to look at. I would think it's going to take about two years before it's all ready to go," he said.
Hall rose to fame with his award-winning screenplay for the 2000 film Billy Elliot, the story of a working-class boy who aspires to be a ballet dancer. The story was adapted for the West End in 2005, with the help of Sir Elton and Mr Furnish, and such was its success that it transferred to Broadway, to immense critical acclaim.
Hall is currently in the process of adapting Michael Morpurgo's book, War Horse, into a film, set to be directed by Steven Spielberg.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Catwoman comes out as bisexual
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Grace Dent on TV: Mary Portas: Secret Shopper delves into a grim cornucopia of retail wrongness
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts