Catherine Jean Donald

Velveteen | Small orchestration | Large, Extendalbe

  • About the Show

    About The Show: "Velveteen" is adapted from the book "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams. It is a story about a velveteen rabbit which is given as a Christmas present to a little boy. As time goes by, the toy rabbit becomes the little boy's favourite toy, until he no longer considers him to be a toy - he considers him to be real. The rabbit loves being real to the boy and doesn't notice that, with all the hugging, cuddling and general overuse, he is becoming shabby to look at. When the boy becomes ill with a contagious disease, the doctor recommends that, in order to sterilise the nursery, the little rabbit be thrown away. Alone and dejected on the rubbish pile, the little rabbit cries tears of great sadness. But from these tears, a flower grows. And out of the flower steps a fairy. Since he has loved the boy so much, she changes him to become a real rabbit, real not just to the boy, but to everyone.


    “Velveteen” is the story of a toy rabbit which is given as a present to a little boy at Christmas. Like most of his toys, it is played with for just a little while, and then tossed into the toy box with the other toys when Christmas Day is over. The little rabbit strikes up a friendship with an old, shabby skin horse and one day he asks the skin horse what it means to be real. The wise old horse replies that, contrary to what most of the boastful mechanical and battery-operated toys believe, real is not how a toy is made, but it is something that happens to a toy. He says “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but really loves you, then you become real.”

    Time passes, and one day the Boy can’t find the toy he usually takes to bed with him. His harassed nanny grabs the Velveteen Rabbit from the toy box instead. So begins their friendship and soon the Boy and the Rabbit are inseparable, spending the long summer days together. Once, close to bedtime, his nanny has to go out into the garden to fetch the Rabbit, which has been left outside. She scolds him for making such a fuss over having his favourite toy with him in bed. Then he says the words that the Rabbit has been waiting for, “He isn’t a toy, he’s real!” The Rabbit is overjoyed!

    While in the woods with the Boy, however, he comes across some live rabbits and finds the encounter very confusing. He realises that they are very different from him, and that they do not see him as being real. But he is certain that he is real because the Boy had said so.

    Then one day, the Boy contracts scarlet fever and during this time their friendship deepens. The Rabbit is his constant companion through the long, delirious days and nights, not leaving his side. Eventually, he recovers and great is the Rabbit’s joy to hear that the Boy is to go to the seaside to convalesce. But the joy is short-lived. The doctor orders the room to be sterilized, and all the toys that the Boy had played with, including the Velveteen Rabbit, are to be thrown out for fear of re-infecting him. Lying in a sack in the garden, the Rabbit cannot believe that it has all led to this and he begins to cry. But where the tear is shed, a flower grows, and from the flower comes a fairy. She is the Nursery Magic Fairy and her purpose is to take all the old and loved playthings and make them real. Before this, the Rabbit was real only to the Boy, but now she makes him real to everyone. She then takes him back to the wood, to the other rabbits he met before, and releases him to run amongst them. The story ends when the Boy comes to play in the woods and sees the Velveteen Rabbit. He marvels at how this rabbit looks so like his old plaything, not realizing that in fact this is the very Rabbit that he helped to become real.

    The main message of the story is that being a real person means not being afraid to risk becoming shabby for someone else’s sake. Love often means sacrifice, hard work and sometimes going through painful experiences but real people don’t worry about this. They know that it is what is inside of us that matters and not what we look like on the outside.

    Casting Information

    The narrator/s: One or several narrators narrate or read this part. One could have different narrators in the first and second act.

    The Boy: This is the boy who owns the Velveteen Rabbit. He doesn’t have a name because he could be any boy!
    The Boy’s mother
    The Boy’s father
    Nana: The Boy’s nanny, a big, strict but comforting lady. This is a singing and acting role.
    The Velveteen Rabbit: The life size representation of the toy. This is a singing and acting role
    The Skin Horse: (could be a front and a back!) The toy that has lived longest in the nursery, very old and a bit shabby. This is a singing and acting role.
    Doctor: This is the doctor who attends to the Boy while he is sick. There might also be a nurse if extra parts are needed.
    Nursery Magic Fairy: This is the fairy who looks after the rabbit when he has been discarded. This is a singing and acting role.
    Groups: There are no set numbers of children in these groups but guidelines are given. Numbers can be changed in order to accommodate numbers of children that need specific roles.
    Relatives: This is a group that appears in the second song and mimes a Christmas Day with relatives. There are at least one uncle and aunt and several cousins
    Servants: Also during the above song various things are brought in by servants for example turkey, plum pudding, champagne,. These servants bring in the food and drink – possibly 2 girls and 2 boys dressed as house maids and butlers.
    The toys: There are several toys that have specific roles and some that sing during the song “Welcome Friend”

    Timothy the Lion – a lion that also is a spy – must sing a verse and also act like a spy, possibly also wearing sunglasses and looking a little James Bond-ish!!
    The sailboat
    The music box – this could be a little fairy like the kind that twirls inside a music box
    The mechanical toys – a group of toys that can move on their own for example Buzz Lightyear or whoever the current favourite children’s toys are.
    The soldiers

    Other non-singing toys:

    Superman: This is a group where one can go wild and have fun with different characters!
    The rabbits: These are a group of about 5 children who can dance. Rabbits 1 and 2 also have speaking parts.
    They appear twice in the second act and have two short dance routines.
    The petals: These are a group of four or five girls who wear pretty coloured tutus and represent the flower that brings forth the Nursery Fairy. They also have a verse in her song which they sing together with her.
    All the other children sing in the chorus and may at times be joined by children who have small roles but will join in with the singing at other times. During the first act they could wear some kind of robe which will cover what they wear in the second act. During the second act the children represent the trees of the forest and wear brown pants and green on top

    Performance Group

    “Velveteen” is a play that can involve a lot of children in many different roles. There are some speaking parts, some singing parts and some that combine the two. There are also some roles for children who dance and there are many small cameo roles so that children can have a special part without needing to do too much in the way of speaking. The Velveteen Rabbit is the largest role and the child who takes this part has a speaking part, a solo song to sing and a duet with the Skin Horse, as well as quite a bit of miming during the play. At times, as explained in the script a toy bunny is used on stage and at times the character Velveteen Rabbit is on stage. Other solo singing roles are the Nursery Magic Fairy, Nana and the Skin Horse. The Boy’s role is a speaking and miming one. He has no songs. Quite a few of the toys from the nursery have one or two lines to sing. The scenery and props in the play are not too complex and these are explained in the script itself or in the separate props schedule.

    As far as the music is concerned, parts have been written for piano, violin, recorder (sometimes two different recorders) and cello. There are also guitar chords. The instrument parts have been kept simple, so that children could possibly play if this was appropriate. The parts for the various instruments are not hard and fast and if for example a flute and not a violin was available, they could be changed to accommodate this. Keyboards also could be used, even for various instrument parts if these instruments were not available. For example, in “Nana” there is a jazzy solo that sounds right with a saxophone, which could be played on a keyboard.

    “Velveteen” is a play most suited to foundation phase children (ages 6 to 9) but could even have the occasional adult role if it was felt to be appropriate. It is a musical that can stretch to accommodate many children in many different roles, so as to be a good learning experience, as well as a lot of fun for all.

    Production Material

    20 Libretto/Vocal Books
    Recorder I
    Recorder II

Partners & Associates

  • cipc
  • bsa
  • samro