Amateurs and Professionals are warned that these plays are copyrighted 1972, 1980, 1985, 1999, 2004 by John Mucci and Richard Felnagle. These plays may not be performed without the accompanying music. For licensing performance rights and musical materials, contact the authors.


a cycle of musical plays for Community Theatre

by John Mucci & Richard Felnagle

Russel is a 12-year old boy who has a very active imagination. He lives in a not-too affluent neighborhood in a house with a dead tree—and a treehouse—in the back yard. Russel's life has its ups and downs, but whenever Russ is troubled or confused, or scared and unsure of himself, he goes into his back yard and dreams up a cast of characters who always seem to get him through his dilemma. Since these are musical plays, Russel's Song is one of the most important numbers in each play, and not only part of the opening of each story, but the music that gets Russel's fantasy life kick-started:

"Part of the world is real,
Part of the world I can feel;
But part of the world I can steal
From books I have read,
Dreams in my bed,
Blood I have bled.
'Cause part of the world is in my head."

The original cast of "Russel's Back Yard" (1972)
Photo Walt Seng
With those words, Russel's back yard comes to life, populated with characters he's heard of, or was studying about in school, or invented outright. He struggles with them in compelling stories full of adventure, heroics, and good versus evil (but not every story has a happy ending). Russel always learns about himself, about life, about relationships.

The casts are flexible, but have a core set of characters and can be amplified as needed with large choruses, or simply have the cast take the choral parts. The music is fun to sing, somewhat challenging, but not tremendously difficult. Some of the songs are metrically experimental, some are common song tunes in a familiar off-broadway style.

The following are the plays collected under the title of "Russel's Back Yard"

This series of plays was originally performed in 1972 in McKeesport, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Subsequently it was performed at the South Campus of the Community College of Allegheny County, in West Mifflin, and "Russel and the Crystal Ball" was adapted for television by WTOV, Steubenville, OH.

Richard Felnagle and John Mucci are the authors of other musical plays for community theater, including Another Tortoise, Another Hare, published by Samuel French, Inc.

If you are interested in performing any or all of the plays in Russel's Back Yard, please contact:

John Mucci
9 DeForest Rd.
Wilton, CT 06897