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PETA honors ‘Water for Elephants’ with Pony Award

The new musical is the second Broadway show to receive the accolade.

The company of “Water for Elephants” on Broadway, 2024 (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a nonprofit dedicated to animal advocacy, has awarded the Broadway production of “Water for Elephants” with a Pony Award. A punny nod to the Tony Awards, the honor is given to animal-friendly theater productions. The Pony acknowledges the new musical’s use of puppetry, theatrics and special effects in creating animals onstage. PETA also cites “Water for Elephants” for bringing awareness to the reality of animal suffering and cruelty seen in real circuses. 

“‘Water for Elephants’ is putting human artistry front and center — from its talented two-legged performers to its visionary production team’s exquisite animal renderings,” said Lisa Lange, PETA senior vice president, in a statement. “PETA encourages everyone in the entertainment industry to follow its example by bringing animals to the stage and screen through creativity, not cruelty.”

Set in a depression-era traveling circus, “Water for Elephants” features a varied menagerie of animals—an elephant, horse, camel, peacock, llamas and big cats—all of which are presented through some illusion.

Featuring a score by PigPen Theatre Co. and a book by Rick Elice, “Water for Elephants” follows Jacob Jankowski as he joins a circus and forms a special bond with Rosie, its newest elephant. Directed by Jessica Stone, the musical began previews on Feb. 24 and opened on March 21 at the Imperial Theatre. An original cast album was recorded on March 25.

“Water for Elephants” is the second Broadway production to be honored with the Pony. “Life of Pi” received the inaugural award in 2023.

“Water for Elephants” is produced by Peter Schneider, Jennifer Costello, Grove Entertainment, Frank Marshall, Isaac Robert Hurwitz and Seth A. Goldstein.