When we last saw Anna and Al the Gator, they were on a mission, searching for Vitamin A in Africa. They are unexpectedly rejoined by Amelia just as the climax approaches. Time to listen…
Not a whole lot of lyric in today’s selection, which integrates music, movement, dialog and singing into a (hoepfully) seamless flow. These stanzas, though, are worth noting:
This fidgety feeling won’t leave me alone.
My body, it seems, has a mind of its own.
These African rhythms are bad to the bone!
Is something the matter with me?
I’m feeling a little peculiar today.
You think that it might be the Vitamin A?
Well, now that I’m dancing, I just have to say
There’s nothing the matter with me!
The piece is constructed in rondo form. The main theme uses the melodic riff heard in the opening number, transformed from 4/4 to 6/8 time, and the chant “Anna, Anna, Anna animal…” The music goes off on little side trips, like the reprise of Anna’s song “What Is The Matter With Me?,” but always finds its way back to that main theme. By the end, the audience is shouting out words in an exhilarating call-and-response ending.
I’ve created several original works for young audiences, and worked with exceptional collaborators on a number of others, and my ambition is always to create something that I would dig as much as the kids do. A is for Anything measures up to that standard very well, I think. There’s plenty of little “easter eggs,” surprises that are there awaiting the discovery of the discriminating listener, but there’s also wacky fun and delight for the unsophisticated audience member.
If you’ve been wondering what the whole thing looks like, your dreams have come true. Here’s a video of a performance filmed in central New York in early 1991. The cast is different than then ones you’ve been hearing on the audio clips – this production featured Rachael Rosner, Bob Rumnock and the divine D’Arcy Webb. The kids were on tour with us for this gig – a very tiny baby Kerry and five-year old Alex. We were a show biz family, camped out at a Courtyard outside Syracuse as we trouped through the nearby schools. Those were the days!