Water for Elephants, a new musical based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen, will make its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in summer 2023. For those who can’t wait, a sneak-peek presentation is scheduled for June 27 and 28 of this year at the Alliance. 

Like the novel, the play is an adventure-filled romance that deals with the need for love, family and belonging. 

Directed by Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo), the show features music and by the award-winning PigPen Theatre Co.; Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) wrote the book. Producers Peter Schneider and Elisabetta di Mambro, in association with Broadway Across America and Mehr! Entertainment, obtained the worldwide rights to the novel in 2015.

The story starts with Jacob Jankowski, despondent over the death of his parents, who leaves veterinary school and hitches a ride on a mysterious train. He finds himself working as a vet at the “Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth,” where he meets the charismatic ringmaster August and his wife, Marlena, a beautiful equestrian star. When August brings Rosie, an Asian elephant, into the circus as the new star attraction, August and Rosie bond over training her. August’s jealousy over the forbidden budding romance between his wife and August bubbles over into violence and threats against August, Rosie and Malena. It’s a riveting story of romance, deception and a little bit of magic, all under the big top of a traveling circus.

“When I wrote the book, I hoped people would think about the way we treat those who are dependent on us—animals, the elderly, the debilitated, as well as the power of love in all its forms, and it’s going to be amazing to see this message delivered in such an exciting medium,” Gruen told Playbill.

The cast for the June 2022 sneak-peek presentation of Water for Elephants includes Cameron Adams, Sebastian Arcelus, Alex Branton, Stan Brown, Paul Castree, Jennifer Frankel, Marco Ingaramo, Bill Irwin, Jonathan Kim, Oliver Layher, Isabelle McCalla, Michael Mendez, Erika Olson, Natasha Patterson, Dina Sok, Teo Spencer, DeAnne Stewart, Yasmeen Sulieman, Ben Thompson, William Fintan Underwood, Ryan Vasquez, Kyran Walton and Michael Wordly.

For season tickets to the Alliance, visit Alliancetheatre.org. Follow Water for Elephants on Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and Facebook at @w4emusical.