Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
With a passel of excited youngsters gathered on the floor in front of the platform, the Kearsley Park Players opened a rousing, and slightly tongue-in-cheek, production of the children’s classic Jack and the Beanstalk Thursday evening. This wonderfully comic rendition, written by Flint’s own Megan Donahue and performed in the Kearsley Park Pavilion, captivated the adults as well as the kids.
It’s a short little story (just 20 minutes in length) but elaborately mounted and gorgeously costumed right down to the “character” of Milky White, Jack’s cow! Donahue’s script involves the entire town, so there are whole families raging against Jack and his Mother when Milky White runs dry.
We know the story: Jack’s Mother (Amber Dillard) demands he sell the errant cow (Ian Thomas) so they can have money to survive. Jack (Justin Wetenhall) sells the cow to a wizard (Vic Galea) in return for five magic beans.
His mother throws the beans out the window and exiles Jack to his room, but soon the beans sprout in the form of five adorable tiny tots who help Jack up the stalk to the Giant’s castle in the sky. There he meets the Giant’s wife (Jessica Eldredge), a comical and outspoken gal who warns him away.
But the Giant (Matthew Szhkhent) “smells the blood of an Englishman”, which he prefers to his wife’s pancakes any day! Jack gets away first with the Hen that lays golden eggs (Alberta Dillard) who had the youngsters squawking right along with her! But when he steals the loud and glistening golden Harp (Shelly Hoffman), the Giant gives chase.
Although we’d expect the beanstalk to grow skyward, this one grows horizontally instead. With help from the tots, this approach actually works as the collective audience imagination takes over.
It all ends happily, of course, with Milky White even being returned by the wizard. So, gather the youngsters or just come alone. But do head out to the parks this weekend for this very enjoyable Jack and the Beanstalk. And give director Kay Kelly an extra round of applause for bringing this diverse group of young and old together in such comical and entertaining style.
Admission is free but you may want to bring a lawn chair to the venue of your choice: Linden County Park (Clover Beach) Friday, July 10 at 7 pm; Saturday, July 11 – Max Brandon Park at 2 pm, Mott Park at 3 pm, & Flushing County Park at 7 pm; Sunday (July 12) McKinley Park (Thread Lake) at 3 pm.