Review: Jack And The Beanstalk

GREAT HEIGHTS: Jake Nye as Jack and Chandler Sweet as Marion are part of a top ensemble cast.

Jack And The Beanstalk

Presented by: Young People’s Theatre

Venue: Young People’s Theatre, Hamilton (phone 49614895)

Season: Daily until Saturday; then Saturdays to November 15

WHILE most adults will be familiar with the story Jack and the Beanstalk, they will find this new production to be as rewarding as the young people who are its targeted audience.

In previous stagings by Young People’s Theatre of William Ford’s adaptation of the tale, the giant who lives at the top of the beanstalk that intrepid hero Jack climbs has been seen as a pair of huge feet.

Here the giant, named Gruesome, is a full-bodied three-metre high figure, with rolling eyes that are both amusing and threatening.

Gruesome is an impressive piece of puppetry created by John Deacon and operated by an unseen actor (three share the role), with the deep voice of another young actor, Jesse Alston, giving the figure the needed menace.

This Jack and the Beanstalk also has impressive costumes and make-up for the people of two sky-high kingdoms whom Jack encounters in his search for money to pay the overdue rent that his widowed mother owes to the demanding baroness who owns their home.

The kingdoms are ruled by sisters, Queen Twinkle and Queen Blue Sky, who are at loggerheads after a falling out. Their moves to a war footing affect the romantic relationship between Twinkle’s son, Sparky, and Blue Sky’s daughter, Blue-Bird, with Sparky joining Jack to find the giant’s castle and its treasure after the lovers’ forced parting.

The costumes of the people in the two kingdoms, designed by director Wendy Leis and Karen Nye, and put together by a large team, are stunningly beautiful, with Twinkle’s costumes red and pink and Blue Sky’s as her name suggests.

The courtiers’ clothes likewise are splendid: gold uniforms for Twinkle’s retinue and interesting blue designs for her sister’s back-up team.

The performances of the two large alternating casts carry the story along well, with the backing of a first-class technical and musical team. And the delivery of songs such as Honest and Truly, and the lively act one finale, Follow the Morning Star, sung by the Twinklys, has audience members toe-tapping.

The show’s weakness for me is that too much time is spent in the two space kingdoms, delaying Jack’s encounter with the giant. But young audience members will be enjoying the show too much to think about that.