ANIMAL SENSE: Several years ago, Aidan Scrimgeour and his younger brother, Guthrie Scrimgeour, wrote a silly song about a pig.

Their father, J.D. Scrimgeour, a poet, essayist, professor, and interdisciplinary artistic collaborator, suggested the song be turned into a full story.

A family musical project began.

Guthrie and Aidan composed melodies, and then Aidan fleshed out the score. J.D. wrote the lyrics and book.

The result is the musical “Only Human,” which premieres at Ames Hall in Salem Thursday through next Sunday.

“Only Human” is set in the rural town of Blump, where the townsfolk distract themselves from the difficulties of life with celebrity worship and telling stories.


Meanwhile, inhabitants of the farmyard sing and dance about humanity, mortality, celebrity, and the trials of a person’s — or a pig’s — life.

“It’s an animal allegory, a little bit ‘Animal Farm,’ and with the lightheartedness of a musical like ‘Bye, Bye Birdie,’ ” Aidan said.

“It’s a very fun musical, but the satirical content is based on larger life questions about what is inevitable in our lives and how we cope with that,” J.D. added.

Aidan, 19, graduated last year as valedictorian of Salem High School and has completed a year as a pianist in the dual degree program at Tufts University and the New England Conservatory.

At Tufts, he won the 2014 William J. King Award for piano performance.

He is a member of the Pocket Money Orchestra and Shark Saddle, and can be heard at Chianti Jazz Lounge in Beverly, In a Pig’s Eye in Salem, and other local music venues.

J.D. is the author of two books of poetry and two books of nonfiction. He lives in Salem and is a professor of English and coordinator of creative writing at Salem State University.

“Only Human,” is directed by Peter Sampier i, theater professor at Salem State. Musical direction is by Salem resident Karen Gahagan.


The cast and crew includes Michelle Faria of Hudson; Elizabeth Jelinek of Topsfield; Andy LeBlanc of Wakefield; David Merideth of Franklin; and Kayla Riley of Salem.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. next Sunday.

Tickets are $20; $12 for students and seniors citizens. They are available at onlyhumansalem.brownpapertickets.com or at the door, with limited availability, 30 minutes prior to performances.

AUTHOR’S CORNER: Rita Zoey Chin talks about her new memoir, “Let the Tornado Come,” at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport 7 p.m. on Friday.

The book tracks the long road to recovery from childhood abuse and life on the streets. When her picture-perfect suburban life is threatened by the past, Chin finds healing, hope, and love in a horse named Claret, who has problems of his own. Though urged to sell him for a dollar, Chin finds a way to rescue him, and in the process, herself.

IN LOCAL GALLERIES: “SERIES,” an exhibit of paintings and collage by Tim Harney and Loren Doucette, and sculptural furniture by Len Richardson, is at Flatrocks Gallery in Gloucester through July 20. Harney’s series, “View from Andrew’s Room,” was created over several years. To date, it consists of more than 100 paintings and works on paper, and it continues to hold his interest. Doucette chose the view overlooking the marsh at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester for an intensive monthlong adventure in painting. Employing a variety of surfaces and media including oil, acrylic, and graphite, she allowed herself to respond to the constant changes unfolding before her. Although Richardson limits his palette to cement, handmade paper, Plexiglass, and wood, his creations blur the line between sculpture and furniture. . . . The Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts at Endicott College in Beverly presents the exhibition “Theory to Practice: Select Works from Interior Design Alumni,” through Sept. 19. The show features contemporary interior design projects created by 30 Endicott College alumni who represent 17 design firms. It includes samples of educational, health care, residential, and corporate designs. Endicott offers bachelor of science, master of arts, and master of fine arts in interior design degrees, with alumni from each program participating in this exhibit.


Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com.