Although both Lance Ringel and Chuck Muckle have earned many writing credits over more than four decades of sharing their lives together, Animal Story remains the only work that the couple has created together. This half-hour “mini-musical” about a diverse group of animals in a zoo who must resolve their differing ideas about how to deal with their situation, which involves a comically villainous zookeeper and a good-hearted assistant zookeeper, is a sort of Pixar film for the stage, written well before its time, and features five memorable show tunes.
Animal Story was originally written in 1978 for a performance at a middle school in Ohio, at a time when Ringel (book and lyrics) was 25 and Muckle (music) was 22. Thirty-six years later, it was revived in a shortened version that was put on by younger children at a Montessori school in Poughkeepsie, New York; then, in 2016, a revised full-length production featuring a young adult cast was a highlight of the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City. The following year, Animal Story made the semifinals of The New York New Works Theatre Festival, which was held that year at The Duke Theatre on 42nd Street.
New York New Works Theatre Festival
I’ve always loved the zoo and now I have another reason.
Gene Fisch, Jr., Director of the New York New Works Theatre Festival
I loved the music, I loved the storyline. Animal Story is terrific. Congratulations!
Veteran Broadway Actress
The Midtown International Theatre Festival cast of Animal Story rehearses the show's stirring opening song, "When We Were Free."