by Composer/Lyricist John McDonnell Tierney




Humanity’s Child emerges from real life and the experience of young people today as they “march for their lives” (#MarchForOurLives), and especially young women as they navigate the complex world of gender relations in the 20st century (#MeToo). It is grounded in “state of the science” research in adolescent development and parenting best practices.




The Storyteller weaves a tale of Humanity’s Child, representing all young people on the brink of adulthood. And this “child,” having grown up in a loving and protective family, has only just begun to really be aware of the world around her; a world of dissonance, discord, and danger.  As the story evolves, Humanity’s child encounters her fears and anxieties about the future while struggling to make sense of a terror filled world. Family members, Humanity’s Cousins, offer support and guidance as to just how she might, in fact, not only live but thrive in a very scary world. They encourage her to “participate joyfully” in the fullness life and to speak up for what she know is right.






Humanity’s Child is designed to speak to two audiences.  The musical portion, nine songs in popular styles familiar to contemporary ears, is aimed at young people; the narrative (The Storyteller) is aimed at their parents and extended families. Thus, the audience for this musical are “tweens, teens, and up!”




Three master musicians comprise a “Piano Power Trio: Piano, Bass, Drums.” The band is onstage throughout and may (optionally) contribute to vocals in ensemble situations. Alternatively, accompaniment tracks are available.




60:00 – 90:00 Minutes


OVERTURE – 10 min.


ACT I – 30 min.




ENTRE ACT – 5 min.


ACT II – 30 min.







Humanity’s Child is “a new kind of musical.” While it draws on tradition, it offers a “new” more streamlined efficient approach. Humanity’s Child can travel in a van, set up in a few hours and pack up in even less time. Humanity’s Child can be performed by a minimum cast of 6 in a variety of spaces and venues that simply cannot accommodate a traditional musical on the road. Humanity’s Child is an efficient musical, less than an hour without intermission. Its nine songs in popular styles will be familiar to contemporary ears, yet with an unmistakable sense of originality and newness. And, significantly, Humanity’s Child is affordable and producible at a fraction of the cost of traditional musicals. The show can be performed with a live band (“Piano Power Trio”) or with pre-recorded tracks.




Humanity’s Child is a socially conscious work that also seeks to entertain. Currently there is much talk about “escapism” vs “social consciousness” regarding Broadway’s current fare. SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical will entertain audiences…and we seek to do the same!  But more! Humanity’s Child is a love note from one generation (“The Silent Generation”) to another generation (“The Millennial Generation”) with some grandfatherly advice. That “advice” and Humanity’s Child’s “message” to all the millennials out there is this: “Speak up for what you know is right and do it from a place of joy and optimism.”


Although there will be differences of opinion as to what is “right” or “wrong” in any given context, this “advice” optimistically predicts that a fundamental human decency expressed in human action and interaction will prevail. And, this advice is rooted in scientific research that overwhelmingly shows that optimism is better than pessimism…optimists tend to live longer, enjoy better over-all heath, and report greater lifetime satisfaction.



Humanity’s Child was developed over a nine month period (May ’16-Jan’18) based on an unusual structure. Unlike most contemporary musicals that are derived from books, movies, or even cartoons; Humanity’s Child is “derived” from real life. It is based on an inter-generational counseling session, mentor and protégé, in which a problem is articulated, affordances and constraints are addressed, and an action plan is devised. This is what happens in Humanity’s Child. There are no books, no movies, and no cartoons…just real life.

Throughout the development process, it became increasingly obvious to composer John McDonnell Tierney that he needed to re-think everything he believed about writing a musical. Of the many elements that he examined (size, length, contexts, affordability, etc.) “aesthetics” was of primary concern. Aesthetic is generally defined as “a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.” While Dr. Tierney does not claim to be part of a particular “artistic movement,” he grounds his work in bedrock principles. The music of Humanity’s Child is grounded in centuries of theoretical guidelines. The lyrics follow strict rules of meter and rhyme. The messaging and strategy is grounded in psychological and scientific traditions of human cognition, emotion and behavior. And, most importantly, the spirit of Humanity’s Child is grounded in the voices of Humanity’s Children! Can you hear it?



The music of Humanity’s Child was developed by Dr. Tierney using a wide variety of musical composition tools from pianos and pencils to plug-ins and midi-controllers. While the piano parts were accomplished by the composer, percussion and bass tracks were co-developed by artistic collaborators M.J. Tierney (drums) and D. Prindle (bass). The composer also gratefully acknowledges his many “virtual artistic collaborators,” behind-the-scenes musicians; programmers, audio engineers, and other folks who create the 21st century tools that allow him to create “original” music.