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Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
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CHILDREN'S OPERAS: Bearskin

BEARSKIN
a tale about a man who didn't wash for seven years!

 

a musical play based on the Grimm Fairy Tale
by Michael Lerner, Susan Bingham and
students of the Foote Summer Theatre Program
music by Susan Hulsman Bingham

Drawing of Bearskin by Susan Bingham
 

CAST:

Soldiers, General Duck, Eastwood/Bearskin, Sloppy Jo, Billy Bo, Devil, Abyssma, Spiders' Legs, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Acrobats, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Monkey, Tailor Man, Newly Suited Man, Old Women Vendors, Grovellers, Dahlia, Jackson, Innkeepers, Berman, Sheldon, the Innkeeper, Margery (the Innkeeper's Wife), Papa, Clarice, Patrice, Locktil, Friends of the sisters, Berman, Priest

piano

ACCOMPANIMENT:

treble chorus made up of the actors

CHORUS:

optional

DANCE:

minimal household materials. Details in score.

PROPS:

Grimm fairy tale

SOURCE OF TEXTS:

English

LANGUAGE:

cross between light classical and Broadway, melodic, quirky

MUSICAL STYLE:

SOUND SAMPLES:

Click here to hear a sample from a live performance.
Click here to hear a second sample.

SCENES:

eight

Foote School Summer Theater Program, The Foote School, New Haven, CT USA • 1990

PREMIER:

seventy-five minutes.

DURATION:

DIRECTOR:

Michael Lerner

Adamil Rivera and Jennifer Schlusberg

ASSISTANT DIRECTORS:

Michael Kayne

STUDENT DIRECTOR:

CHOREOGRAPHER:

Katherine Bingham

SYNOPSIS

THUMBNAIL SYNOPSIS: A group of Self-Thieves take the "self" from a boy. He wakes in terror and proceeds to go through many trials to find it, with the help of some selfless goblins.

THE LONG VERSION: A group of confused and dishevelled soldiers enters. Among them is Eastwood, bravest fighter in the king's army, and General Duck, who is constantly frustrated by his dotty troops.

Because Eastwood is very nearly perfect in his honesty and bravery, the Devil and his two cohorts, Mephistopheles and Beelzebub, decide to test him. The first test involves Abyssma, a huge spider. Eastwood faces her, rescues a man, and lops off her legs. This done, the Devil puts Eastwood under a curse: Eastwood is to remain homeless and unwashed for seven years. He may not say a single Our Father, and he is to be called Bearskin. His only consolation is that he is to wear a coat with a magical pocket which gives him an unending supply of money.

If Eastwood survives the seven years with moral integrity intact, he will go free. If he dies or succumbs to temptations of greed, dishonesty and the like, his soul will go to the Devil.

We witness a few scenes from Bearskin's seven years' wanderings. These include a visit to a carnival featuring acrobats, a hurdy-gurdy man, a master tailer, women selling cakes, and grovellers. We watch as various innkeepers shut their doors to Bearskin. We see how innkeepers Margery and Sheldon treat him: for though his increasingly putrid smell and frightful appearance drive people away, Bearskin's generosity with his money often wins him grudging acceptance.

Three years before the curse is to end, Bearskin meets a poor old man and his three daughters. The youngest, Locktil, agrees to marry Bearskin because he has given money to her father. Bearskin and Locktil exchange halves of a ring and pledge to meet again.

The seven years pass. Eastwood's honesty and bravery have won him release from the curse. The Devil reluctantly cleans him up, and as the layers of grime are removed, Eastwood dreams of his love.

Eastwood arrives at Locktil's home to find that she is in the very process of marrying someone else. He sings their old ring-exchange song to her, and she remembers him, though she is astounded as his now dazzling appearance.

The wedding guests become their former soldier selves. In their customary confusion, they end the show.


Piano/vocal/percussion score of BEARSKIN: $75. Price includes shipping within the US; it also includes performance rights and permission to make sufficient copies of the score for cast members and accompanists for one season.




PDF download of "Bearskin" musical score: $40



DVD of BEARSKIN: $28. Price includes shipping within the US.



Composer's comment: good, fun musical play for a very large cast. Everybody gets something.

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