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Apocalyptic Folk Operetta Stars Animal-Costumed Humans

By Meredith Hoffman | June 6, 2012 3:13pm | Updated on June 6, 2012 3:28pm

BUSHWICK — Cameron Stuart is ready to throw on his wooden wolf mask and fur, to beat on broken cymbals, and to do his rain dance — after all, it might be the end of the world.

"Five animals live on this green hill and they're confronted by an apocalyptic storm," said Stuart of his folk operetta "The Storm" which makes its New York debut tonight at Secret Project Robot in Bushwick. "There's singing, dancing, masks, magic, philosophy, alchemy — all the things I like."

Stuart, 29, whose smoking wolf mask ("that's just part of my personality," he said) accompanies bear, rabbit, crow, badger, fox and coyote costumes on stage, said the one-hour musical was inspired by mythological folk tales from around the world and includes a half-written, half-improvised musical score including a cello, clarinet, and "makeshift folk orchestra."

"The storm itself is personified by music — it's a storm of sound," he said of the play's torrent. "During rehearsals every time we'd perform [the rain dance] it would start out with blue skies and by the end it would be raining...I guess it works."

The production, which Stuart performed last year in Atlanta, also involves audience interaction and each night has an "element of surprise."

"It's designed like a ritual," he said, noting the audience "would be able to move around freely" at each of the four Bushwick performances.

Stuart, a Florida native who's lived and worked all over the country before settling in Bushwick during the last year, said he does not, in fact, fear the end of the world.

"It's something I hear about so I write about it...it seems to be something on people's minds," he said of the apocalypse, and hinted that his play toys with the notion of what the "end" really means.

But one thing he said he would not claim was a joke: "The people involved in the production are all magical, wizards, alchemists."

The audience can find out for themselves, starting Wednesday night.

"The Storm" plays at 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at Secret Project Robot on 389 Melrose St., with doors opening at 8:30 p.m., additional entertainment beginning at 9 p.m. prior to each evening's show, and music after the operetta by the group the Antediluvians. Tickets are $10 at the door.