The Musicians of Bremen

A musical based on the story of four animals traveling to Bremen to make their fortune in the music world. Music by Arkadi Serper.




DOG Peacenik often called “Bones”





HEINTZ, WERNER, and FRITZ Thieves; skinheads

WOMAN Owner of Rooster

WILLIAM WURST III Mayor of Blinkensburg

Cameo Parts:

FRIDA Citizens of Blinkensburg


Chorus: Play Trees, Rocks, Citizens of Blinkensburg


Act I is on the road to Blickensburg. The “scenery” is generally comprised of members of the chorus dressed as trees, rocks, flowers, and any other desired scenery, who can move to different positions as the animals walk along the “road”.

Act II is in the town square of Blickensburg. A backdrop of a painted City Hall is desirable.

The creators of the show encourage any kind of clever use of inexpensive materials and spurs to the audience’s imagination.

THE MUSICIANS OF BREMEN takes about an hour and a quarter to play.


[On stage are a meadow, a road, an old tree, and a fence.  A tired old donkey comes on stage followed by a man and woman pushing and poking her.]
MAN: Can’t you go any faster?  Because of  “Old Bones,” here we’re going to miss “Monday Night Football”!
WOMAN: Poor old Bertha certainly has gotten slow.
MAN: Half an hour just to walk five blocks isn’t “slow”; it’s “barely moving.” [Hits donkey]  Get a move on, “Bones.”
DONKEY: My name is Bertha.
WOMAN: I think she doesn’t like to be called “Bones.”
MAN: Don’t be ridiculous.  Donkeys don’t care what they’re called.  We should have sold her to the glue factory.  I know we’ll end up feeding her.
DONKEY: I’ve helped feed you for ten years.
WOMAN: See, I think she understands what you say.  She sounds so sad.
MAN: She’s a donkey.  Donkeys don’t have feelings.
WOMAN: Anyway, there’s plenty of grass in this meadow.  Why would we have to feed her?
MAN: What about when the snow starts?  There won’t be any grass then, and you’ll be asking me to buy hay.  C’mon, let’s get going.  I’ll call the glue factory tomorrow and find out how much she’s worth.
WOMAN: I guess it’s better than letting her starve.
MAN: C’mon; maybe we can catch the second half.  So long, Bones.
WOMAN: Goodbye, Bertha.

[Man and Woman go out]

BERTHA: [singing]

“Why Did I have to Grow Old?”
Why do things grow old and get holey?
Why do bones tend to get so boney?
After a while, why does everything squeak,
Collapse and molder, bend and creak?
To tell the truth, it’s happening as I speak.
Why did I have to grow old?

TREE: [singing]

Why do leaves fall off and scatter?
Why do limbs tend to want to shatter?
After a while, why does everything groan,
Dry up or splatter, ache and moan?
To see we’re right, just look at the things you own.
Why did we have to get old?

FENCE: [singing]

Why do rails dry up and splinter?
Why do nails rust in the winter?
After a while, why does everything sag,
Lean off of kilter, warp and bag?
To hear it said, it makes me want to gag.
Why did I have to grow old?

ALL: [singing]

Why did we have to grow old?
Can’t we do “younger” instead?
Why did we have to grow old?

DONKEY: At least you can get old!  I’m going to get sent to the glue factory.
TREE: It’s a sticky situation [snorting laugh].
FENCE: You don’t even seem that old to me.  You still sing pretty well.
DONKEY: Not that it does me much good.
FENCE: Why don’t you just leave?  You’re not planted like we are.
TREE: I can leave but I can’t go away! [laughs]

This was the second children’s play Arkadi and I wrote together, again commissioned by Kairos Youth Choir. The music is Germanic, to fit the story. One thing I did was change the original so that the four principal animals do have good voices; I didn’t want to force an audience of parents and grandparents to listen to an hour of screeching. It’s only when they try to sing their four songs together that they sound awful—once, to fit the story.

The moral of this tale is an important one, that there is a place for everyone in the world, that the world is waiting for you to find it and make your contribution. That song is the finale.