‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at The Puppet Co. by Julia L. Exline

The Puppet Co. presents Jack and the Beanstalk, a favorite childhood tale suited for all tastes. Performed by Allan Stevens and Christopher Piper and recommended for ages K-6, Jack and the Beanstalk provides a solid afternoon of entertainment for the whole family. You’ve read this classic story in print, heard it told by your loved ones, and may have even seen it on the screen, but have you experienced it through puppetry? If not, you should.

Allan Stevens and Christopher Piper are not merely performers for this production; they take on the whole thing in partnership. Piper created the script, as well as animations used in the show and an impressive giant mask that he wears for the role (which is truly the biggest “wow” factor of the production!) Stevens is also responsible for set, costume, and puppet design, as well as directing the whole shebang. Impressed? So am I.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Piper/The Puppet Co.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Piper/The Puppet Co.

The set, which displays painted shields emblazoned with lions and unicorns and is paired with flutey festival music, immediately harkens back to Medieval times. A screen used as a backdrop shows a variety of settings throughout the show, such as rolling hills, thick forestry, and of course, a growing beanstalk. Then the rod puppets come in, always beautiful and detailed, appearing so fragile and yet proven tougher than they seem as they thrash about the stage, manipulated by the puppeteers. With their medieval garments and large, hooded eyes, they have a sense of majesty about them that never fails to amaze me.

Jack Waddle is a poor farm boy who lives with his mother, and is bored with his simple lifestyle. He longs for wealth and power, envisioning himself as an adventurous knight surrounded by treasure and excitement. When his old cow Penelope (an amusing puppet, with patches sewn onto her grayed hide) ceases to produce milk, Jack finds himself in an unlikely trade, and ends up with a sack of beans in her place. Feeling cheated, he goes to bed angry…and awakes to a towering beanstalk that reaches into the sky. There, among the clouds, lies the adventure he has been craving for; a hungry Giant, a hen that lays golden eggs, extreme wealth, and a magical harp. He also finds a timid girl who cannot speak, but goes out of her way to keep him safe regardless. When it comes down to it, will Jack escape the Giant’s castle with wealth, or will he help someone who needs him? Perhaps Jack will leave this adventure with a new perspective on what the riches of life really are.

The children in the audience were thrilled with the show, and I enjoyed myself as well. Treat your child to a showing of Jack and the Beanstalk, before he disappears!

Running Time: Approximately 50 minutes, without an intermission.

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Jack and the Beanstalk plays through April 21, 2013 at The Puppet Co. – 7300 MacArthur Blvd., in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, please call (301) 634-5380, or order them online.


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