Producing Plays with a Purpose

Andrea Green, B.M. ’76
By UM News

Andrea Green, B.M. ’76

Producing Plays with a Purpose

By UM News
Award-winning composer, playwright, and music therapist Andrea Green, B.M. ’76, is sharing music’s power to connect and inspire children around the world.

She takes her songs and musicals on the road—from as close as her native Philadelphia to as far away as Estonia—and works with schools and other nonprofits to bring them to life.

Green has been at it for more than 30 years. “On the Other Side of the Fence” just came to me,” she says of one of her first musicals about two feuding farmers who separate their menagerie with a fence. “The musical is all about empathy, understanding, taking down fences, tolerance, and acceptance,” says Green.

Through the course of the musical, which is designed to accommodate young performers of mixed abilities, the fence does come down, enabling the farm animals (and the kids performing together) to find friendship where they least expected it.

The HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy and Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia teamed up to produce On the Other Side of the Fence and other musicals by Green three decades ago. As a result, the city of Philadelphia honored Green in 2013 with a proclamation for her work. A documentary, also titled On the Other Side of the Fence, about the schools’ longstanding collaboration was released last year. So far it has aired on 60 public television stations around the U.S., received a humanitarian award from the United Nations Department of Public Information, and this summer won a mid-Atlantic region Emmy Award. 

Green also has penned Homeroom the MusicalThe Rainbow SeaThe Return of Halley’s CometThe Same Sky, and a dozen other original musicals, but while their plots and settings differ, they share common themes.

“My work is about diversity and acceptance,” says Green. “The musicals have this ability to bring people together with kindness and love.”

They also travel well, it seems. Green recently worked on a production of The Rainbow Sea on the island of St. John and is planning a new collaboration in Uganda. And for the first time, two of her productions were translated into Estonian and performed in that small country after director Franka Vakkum, of the nonprofit Generation Musical Theater Company (Muusikateater Generatsioon), discovered Green’s work online and managed to get funding to bring her over. “The Estonian people embraced me,” Green says. “We fell in love with each other. I gave them hope.”