The Selfish Giant (Perkins)

Short Musical, Drama  /  11any gender (adult)

Music, Lyrics, and Adaptation by David Perkins
Additional Lyrics by Caroline Dooley
Based on the short story by Oscar Wilde

From the composer of the popular Shake, Ripple and Roll and other works for children, here is an enchanting sung-through musical written for a large cast of young people.

The Selfish Giant (Perkins)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    11any gender (adult)
  • Duration
    60 minutes (1 hour)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Christmas/Holiday, Fables/Folktales
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Appropriate for all audiences, Children (Age 6 - 10), Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13), Teen (Age 14 - 18)
The Selfish Giant (Perkins)



A giant builds a high wall around his beautiful garden to prevent the children from playing in it. However, he is taught a valuable lesson when spring does not return and the garden remains in winter all year round. One morning the unusual sound of a birdsong and the sight of a small, frail child trying to climb a tree remind the Giant how selfish he has been. He knocks down the wall, spring returns and he is happy that his garden is now free for all to enjoy. From the composer of the popular Shake, Ripple and Roll and other works for children, here is an enchanting sung-through musical written for a large cast of young people.

The Selfish Giant was first performed at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, UK on 12th July 1995.

Section 1. The Garden: The Gardeners are working in a garden. They describe it as full of beautiful flowers, trees and birds. They tell us that it belongs to the Giant who is currently away in Cornwall visiting his friend the Cornish Ogre.

Section 2. How Happy We Are: The Children of the village creep into the garden and play.

Section 3. The Giant's Return: Meanwhile, the Giant is preparing to leave Cornwall and bids farewell to his friend. He returns to find his garden full of children. He throws them out.

Section 4. Build a Wall: The Giant explains how he intends to build a high wall around his garden to keep everybody out. The Gardeners tell us how the Romans during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian and the Ancient Chinese built walls to keep the peace. The Giant builds the wall with the help of the Gardeners and puts up a threatening sign: "TRESPASSERS WILL BE EATEN!"

Section 5. Outside the Garden: Outside the garden, the Children walk about miserably and talk of happier times when they used to play in the Giant's beautiful garden.

Section 6. Inside the Garden: The Gardeners explain that although spring has arrived, it is always winter in the Giant's garden—Nature's way of punishing him for his selfishness.

Section 7. Winter: The Giant looks out at the wintry scene. Snow, Frost, North Wind and Hail come to visit his garden.

Section 8. The Giant Laments: Inside his castle, the Giant cannot understand why spring has not yet come. He complains about the weather, how cold and miserable he is and how his water pipes have frozen. Outside in the garden the Snow, Frost, Wind and Hail make a terrible nuisance of themselves.

Section 9. Awakenings: One morning the Giant hears music coming from the garden. Looking out, he sees that the birds have returned and the garden is bursting with spring. The Children creep in through a hole in the wall and, convinced that the Giant must be dead, start playing once again. The Giant watches with delight.

Section 10. The Corner of the Garden: The Giant notices one small child in the corner of the garden where strangely it is still winter. The little boy, who seems a lot weaker than the other children, is unable to join in with their games and cannot climb the tree. The Giant's heart melts and at long last he realizes how selfish he has been. Determined to help the frail child he walks into the garden. The Children flee in terror except for the one child who is crying and does not see the Giant coming. The Giant walks up to the child and lifts him gently into the tree. The other children who have been watching realize that the Giant must have changed and return to the garden to befriend him. To prove that he is now a friendly and unselfish person, the Giant knocks down the wall and makes the garden free for all.

Section 11. Harmony: The Giant asks the Children who the little child was and where he had come from—he has since disappeared. The Children don't know him and they have never seen him before.

Section 12. The Passage of Time: Years pass and generations of children come and play with the Giant. He is now an old man, but cannot forget the little child that broke his heart all those years before

Section 13. The End?: One morning, winter returns to the garden. The Giant does not mind—he knows that spring will return again in time. In one corner, however, he notices that it is still spring and sees the little child that he had helped long ago. Excitedly, he rushes over to the child and discovers that there are strange wounds on the Child's hands and feet. The Child tells the Giant that they are the "Wounds of Love." He says that because the Giant had once let him play in the garden he must now come and play in his garden, "which is paradise." The Child leads the Giant away.

Section 14. Anthem: The children return to discover that the Giant has gone. The garden will be theirs for all time.

GARDENER 1* (m/f)
GARDENER 2* (m/f)
GARDENER 3* (m/f)
GARDENER 4* (m/f)
GIANT* (m)
SNOW (m/f)
FROST (m/f)
HAIL (m/f)


*Could be played by older children or adults

  • Time Period Contemporary, Victorian (British and American)
  • Features Fantasy Costumes, Period Costumes
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 60 minutes (1 hour)
  • Cautions
    • No Special Cautions


Song Samples

The Garden
How Happy We Are
The Giant's Return
Build a Wall (Long version)
Outside the Garden
Inside the Garden
The Giant Laments
The Corner of the Garden
The End?
The Passage of Time
Overture – Orchestra
Section 1. “The Garden” – Gardeners, Flowers, Birds
Section 2. “How Happy We Are” – Children
Section 3. “The Giant's Return” – Gardeners, Giant, Cornish Ogre, Children
Section 4a. “Build a Wall (Long Version)” – Giant, Gardeners
Section 4b. “Build a Wall (Short Version)” – Giant, Gardeners
Section 5. “Outside the Garden” – Gardeners, Children (with solos)
Section 6. “Inside the Garden” – Gardeners, Giant, Flower
Section 7. “Winter” – Gardeners, Snow, Frost, Wind, Hail
Section 8 “The Giant Laments” – Giant, Gardeners, Snow, Frost, Wind, Hail
Section 9. “Awakenings” – Gardeners, Giant, Children, Flowers, Birds, Snow, Frost, Wind, Hail
Section 10. “The Corner of the Garden” – Gardeners, Giant, The Child, Children
Section 11.” Harmony” – Children, Gardeners, Giant
Section 12. “The Passage of Time” – Gardeners, Giant, Children
Section 13. “The End?” – Gardeners, Snow, Frost, Wind, Hail, Giant, The Child, Children
Section 14. “Anthem” – Ensemble
14a. “Bows” – Orchestra
14b. “Encore” – Ensemble
14c. “Exit Music (1)” – Orchestra
14d. “Exit Music (2)” – Orchestra

1 Reed (Flute, Clarinet & Alto Sax)
1 Trumpet (Doubling Flugelhorn)
1 Keyboard 2
1 Percussion (Drum Kit, Triangle, Woodblock, Tambourine, Mark Tree (indicated as "Bell Tree" in score), Glockenspeil, Tam-Tam or Chinese Cymbal, Nightingale Bird Caller, Vibraslap)
1 Bass Guitar
  • Musical Style Pop/Rock
  • Vocal DemandsModerate
  • Chorus Size Large

Licensing & Materials

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Music Rentals

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12 Piano-Conductor

1 Reed
1 Trumpet
1 Keyboard 2
1 Percussion
1 Bass Guitar

1 Performance Tracks
12 Piano-Conductor
1 Performance Tracks


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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was born in Dublin to Sir William Wilde and his wife Jane. While studying at Oxford, he was fascinated by the aesthetic movement and eventually became a proponent for L'art pour l'art ("Art for Art's Sake") and wrote the award-winning poem "Ravenna." U ...

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David Perkins

David Perkins works as a composer, pianist, MD and music arranger. His specialization is writing and collaborating on musicals for the youth/schools market and shows aimed at young/family-orientated audiences. Published works include Shake Ripple & Roll, Pandemonium! (a Greek ...
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Caroline Dooley


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