Nora’s Ark

Nora’s Ark

Nora’s Ark, our first title from The Jazz Drama Program, is a modern story based on “the ark” story that we all know, with themes of global warming, cooperation, freedom and survival. The Jazz Drama Program creates original jazz musicals for young people to perform for their peers. It was founded in 2003 as a non-profit arts organization in New York City by jazz musician Eli Yamin, and teacher Clifford Carlson to advance the appreciation of jazz and musical theatre among youth. Jazz Drama Program musicals reflect the many styles of jazz.The original music is evocative of the sound and spirit of great jazz masters like John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Sun Ra, Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Although Jazz Drama Program musicals are written for Middle School students to perform, they have been performed by both younger and older students. Each musical features a large cast (30+ speaking roles), five ensemble musical numbers, a jazz underscore, and an accompaniment CD. The running time for each show will be about an hour.

Nora’s Ark Synopsis Nora, a scientist is checking formula and data in her laboratory.  Her daughters, Dora, Flora, Lora and Fitzi assist.  Nora has determined an imminent danger.  “It’s Gonna Rain” explains all of her observations and calculations that have led her to the conclusion that the North and South poles will melt and the Earth will flood.  She sends her daughters off with specific instructions. Dora will find a cruise ship.  Flora must free the animals at the Bronx Zoo and bring them to the ship.  Lora will find rain gear and Fitzi will be in charge of all of the food preparation on the ship. Fitzi is overjoyed at her new profession: Chef. “The Storm” sends a musical interpretation of the deluge, which floods the Earth.  After the storm, Nora introduces herself and her daughters to the animals who are thankful they have been saved.  Many animal types are present including a very pregnant Mrs. Rabbit, a nervous Mr. Cheetah and two very slow Turtles.  It becomes clear, early on, that Fitzi, in her excitement about being made “Chef” has forgotten the essentials; namely the food.  Predators immediately size up the situation, as well as their prey shipmates, and “The Chase” begins. Prey animals run to Nora’s protection as she tries to convince Predators to fight their natural instincts.  She pleads for more time.  They reject all arguments but are reminded by Fitzi that they owe Nora for their lives.  Predators recite “The Predator Oath of Honor”, which clearly states that whatever Nora says they will abide by.  That evening the Predators gather by the light of a full moon.  Mrs. Tiger is overcome with emotion at suddenly becoming free again after all of her years of captivity at the zoo.  Mrs. Tiger begins “There’s Blue All Around Me” and tells of the joy at finding freedom and the “hunger” that has now been satisfied in her soul.  Everything will be all right, she insists, since they are free again.  All Predators join her in expressing the pain of their past as zoo animals.

The following morning, while the Predators sleep, the Prey animals meet on deck and sing a reprise of “There’s Blue All Around Me” relating similar themes about finding their freedom and the suffering of their past. Things look pretty desperate as the animals are starving to death.  Mrs. Rabbit gives birth to a brood of adorable, “delicious” bunnies and the Predators are truly tested.  “Top dog” baby bunny, Bugsy in his innocence and perspective as a free bunny discovers seaweed and the Prey are saved.  A real moral decision for the Prey must then be made; let the Predators, their former adversaries starve to death?  Or, help to figure out a solution to save them?  Prey animals are convinced by Bugsy and brother and sister bunnies in “Swingin’ On The Family Tree” to seek the later. Though good will to help is now in abundance, food is not and no one can think of a solution for the Predators.  At the height of despair a claustrophobic Mr. Cheetah freaks out and jumps ship.  The Turtles rescue him.  Stuck in Cheetah’s fur the animals discover a fish.  Seaweed will save the Prey animals, who are vegetarians and fish will save the Predators, who as we know are not.  The final scene shows the Predators and Prey working together to catch the food they will need to survive.  Dot, the youngest baby bunny asks Nora what the future will be like.  Nora sings “I See Blue” which reassures everyone that clear skies are ahead of them in this new world not because of the weather but because they have found a way to cooperate and live together in peace.  The rain had been a blessing in disguise.  The future looks bright.

Music, Book and Lyrics by ELI YAMIN Book and Lyrics by CLIFFORD CARLSON

Nora- (scientist, smart, intuitive, sees the big picture)

Daughters:

Dora (oldest daughter, leader)

Flora (second child to Nora, devoted to her mother, ally of animals)

Lora (may be played in a variety of ways – Director’s choice)

Fitzi (happily ditzy, always tripping over her own feet, must be physically expressive, artsy airhead type)

Animals:

Mr. Owl (wise, subdued, holding back pain of captivity)

Mrs. Owl (wise, subdued, holding back pain of captivity)

Mrs. Rabbit (bossy, pregnant, loud)

Mr. Rabbit (proud father to be, hen-pecked partner to Mrs. Rabbit, attentive)

Mr. Monkey (very excitable)

Mrs. Monkey (very excitable, recovering from an addiction to meat)

Mr. Turtle (slow in movement and speech)

Mrs. Turtle (slow in movement and speech)

Mr. Cheetah (hyper-active, claustrophobic, must be physically expressive)

Mrs. Cheetah (attentive to Mr. Cheetah, apologetic for his behavior)

Rooster (proud, believes in military order, has solo pantomime scene)

Chicken (may be played in a variety of ways – Director’s choice)

Mr. Tiger (proud, attentive partner to Mrs. Tiger)

Mrs. Tiger (thoughtful leader of the predators, grateful for her freedom, wise)

r. Lion (lazy, hungry all the time)

Mrs. Lion (sister-cat to Mrs. Tiger, tired of attending to Mr. Lion, but loyal)

Mr. Mouse (paranoid type, thinks everyone is trying to eat him, fainter)

Mrs. Mouse (fed up with Mr. Mouse)

Mr. Zebra (may be played in a variety of ways- Director’s choice)

Mrs. Zebra (thoughtful leader of the prey animals, grateful for her freedom, wise)

Mr. Elephant (strong, still psychologically hurting from capture and captivity)

Mrs. Elephant (strong)

Mr. Wolf (may be played in a variety of ways – Director’s choice)

Mrs. Wolf (may be played in a variety of ways – Director’s choice)

Mr. Boar (may be played in a variety of ways – Director’s choice)

Mrs. Boar (may be played in a variety of ways – Director’s choice)

Bunnies

Bugsy (wisest of the bunnies, philosopher type, thickest Bronx accent)

Fluffy (young bunny, Bronx accent)

Velveteen (young bunny, Bronx accent)

Betty (young bunny, Bronx accent)

Dot (youngest of the bunnies)

Captain Crew

Add or subtract animals as needed

Accompaniment CD

Piano-Vocal Score

Scores are also available for a Quintet (5 Musicians):

Trumpet

Tenor Saxophone/Flute

Piano

Bass

Drums