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Open: 08/15/09- Close: 08/21/09 Jack And The Soy Beanstalk
Reviewed for By: Jennifer Rathbone

Kristin Hoffmann ©2018  The Cast
Dancing magic soybeans, simple artistic visuals, dynamic percussive music, and a modern take on a traditional fairytale, Wide Eyed Productions’ JACK AND THE SOY BEANSTALK creatively entertains adults and children alike in the New York International Fringe Festival. This production is not just a children’s show, it’s puns and humorous pop culture references are perfectly targeted toward 20-30 somethings. Children of all ages benefit from the socially and environmentally conscious messages about renewable resources, reaping what you sow, and valuing non-exploitive farming. This production sows the seeds for green awareness, but is rooted in light-hearted and high-energy creative storytelling.

Much like a sketch comedy troupe, this ensemble assembles first as a cast of storytellers with the Minstrel, Sky Seals*, and quickly create the show by getting to know Jack and becoming the characters in his tale. Through music by Sky Seals*, who also wields his guitar as the Minstrel and Magic Acre Farms Farmer, accompanied by Emily Fellner on Piano and Peter Saleh on Percussion, JACK AND THE SOY BEANSTALK introduces various styles from lyrical ballads, to scatting rockabilly, to Rap. The lyrics and book by Jerrod Bogard are intelligently engrossed with soliloquies, sitcom-like dialogue between Jack (Carlos Avilas) and Momma (Laura Hall*) and Mrs. Big (Brianne Mai), and situational and verbal ironies, as in the toilet humor, the acronyms for the Big Aggie Reaping Farms (B.A.R.F.), and the pop cultural references. This production is equally music, book, performance, and visually captivating.

Director/writer Jerrod Bogard orchestrates a taught ensemble of actors, musicians, and designers through the use of shadow and hand puppetry, percussive sound effects, and a flawlessly transforming set. Sky Seals* adeptly narrates and interacts with the audience as the Minstrel. His Magic Acre Farms Farmer is delightfully warm and inviting. Carlos Avilas, as Jack, embodies the naively charming youth through his exaggerated comedic facial expressions and physical prowess. Laura Hall plays an endearing Momma, whose lyrical singing voice appropriately counters her commanding maternal dialogue. Brianne Mai is a voluptuous Mrs. Big with a domineering presence and a radiant voice. Okieriete Onaodowan, as The Guard/Mr. Big, is comically sinister and enchanting through his deeply resonant voice and biting tone. Jake Paque convincingly becomes the “fresh” rapper as the Golden i-Harp and, in one of the overall hilarious highlights, sings about the Golden Goose with Mr. Big.

Dixon Place is the perfect venue for this production, as it enables the audience to be intimate with the action, but there is plenty of space for the performers and musicians to breathe life into the artistic elements in fully realized theatrical style. Wide Eyed Productions’ JACK AND THE SOY BEANSTALK is a rip-roaring good time musical with a light-hearted green message. This is a must see masterpiece for all ages.

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Dixon Place : 161A Chrystie Street