Why are a cat, a dog, an ox, a donkey, a sheep and three camels all sitting outside a stable on a chilly, starry night? Well, the innkeeper’s wife has a bee in her bonnet and has declared her stable ‘out-of-bounds’ to all animals! Something very curious is happening behind the closed door (song – Behind The Stable Door) and the evicted animals want to find out what it is! As they discuss the events leading to each of them being here, they start to piece together clues in the hope of finding an answer.
The cat and dog tell us how all the innkeepers of Bethlehem, and their wives, have recently been in a state of panic (song – Bustling About). They have heard that the town will soon be full of visitors looking for comfy and clean rooms, so beds need making, pillows need plumping and all domestic animals need to put out! That explains why they’re not allowed inside the inn, but not why the stable is off limits to them…very strange! Next, the donkey explains his presence in the group. Some months ago, his house in Nazareth was visited by an unusual character who gave some news to his mistress, Mary. The donkey hadn’t quite heard what the visitor said, but it led to a long journey which brought them here. The flustered innkeeper’s wife allowed Mary and her husband, Joseph, to come inside, but told the very tired donkey that tonight ‘this stable is no place for animals’! (song – Dozy Donkey). Along with the resident ox, the poor old donkey is made to sit outside!
Next, the sleepy sheep tells how, up on the hillside that evening, she was rudely awoken from a very pleasant dream, in which she recalls lots of happy voices singing (song – Wake Up!), how she was picked up by the excited shepherds and brought to the stable. While the shepherds were allowed inside, she was not! Most annoyed by the situation are the three camels. They tell how they were laden with heavy boxes and bundles and made to travel from their luxurious home in the east, all on the whim of their three ‘wise’ masters who were following a new star that led them here. (song – Grumpy Camels). The camels are extremely upset that the innkeeper’s wife has made them wait outside the stable with these other ‘common’ animals!
Still at a loss, confused and very tired, the animals give up trying to work out the reason for their situation and decide their time would be best spent catching up on some much-needed sleep. However, as they snooze, the stable door is opened to reveal the wonder that has occurred on this special evening. (song – Gifts Of Love). As Mary talks to her visitors and hears about their journeys to the stable, she realises that there are some important characters missing from this special gathering. On Mary’s request, the innkeeper’s wife wakes the animals from their slumber and invites them to come and see the baby. Everything now becomes clear to the animals, as they learn exactly what has been happening behind the stable door and take their celebrated parts in the events of that very first Christmas. (song – Get Up!).