The Kennedy Center and Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) have joined forces to bring a new premiere family show called Jack’s Tale A Mythic Mountain Musical Adventure to the Kennedy Center’s Performances for Young Audiences. It’s passionately directed with loving care by NCT’s Artistic Director Scot Copeland. The show returns to Nashville for a run from February 19 – March 8, 2015. It is a unique opportunity for family to share in the Appalachian and Scots/Irish traditions of the “Jack Legends.”
I attended the yesterday’s 5 PM performance in the intimate Kennedy Center’s Family Theater.
Here’s how the show is being described on the Nashville Children’s Theatre’s website: “Everybody knows Jack! Old King is lookin’ to get the best of him, but Jack’s a clever’un who ain’t afeared of hard work nor Bluebeard Giants nor Raggedy-Bones his own self. He’ll outfox that Old King, he’ll win the heart of Old King’s Daughter, and he’ll carve out a brand new world with his own two hands. Inspired by the old-tyme tales and music of the Appalachians, NCT’s own Scot Copeland and Paul Carrol Binkley have nursed this labor of love for several years, through its various phases of workshop presentations. Thanks to a co-commission with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the authors are taking Jack one last step to glory….sweet, dark and rich as the soil from which it sprang.”
I, along with with lots of excited the mothers and fathers and kids – of all ages – had a good time watching many of the multi-talented cast portray several characters. And boy did this National Children’s Theatre cast work hard and earn their paychecks and well-deserved applause from the appreciative audience. The audience watched these wacky characters inhabit the stage and the transform into their characters right before their eyes.
The audience was enthralled by the story of Jack’s Mama (a very animated Bobby Wyckoff), Jack (the energetic Patrick Waller), his brothers Will (Jenny Littleton), and Tom (Henry Haggard), his wife-to be: The King’s Daughter (the sweet and assertive Jenny Littleton), the Old Woman (Jenny Littleton), and his troubles with the backstabbing and not-so-nice Old King (a perfectly sinister and manipulating Henry Haggard), Blue-Beard the Giant (a very commanding and beard-wearing Bobby Wyckoff), and the character that got the most “I don’t like that guy’ and hisses from the young audience members: Raggedy-Bones (a scary and deadly Bobby Wykoff).
And the audience got to learn about vittles, and taters and maters, and rack rent, and blubbers, and gunnysacks. And a wonderful Cuesheet Performance Guide, which was distributed with the program to parents, helped the adults guide their kids through the story (which I found a little overwhelming for many of the younger kids who were constantly asking their parents what was going on). I strongly urge all the theatres to email the Cuesheet, or this link to everyone who purchases tickets so that the parents can prepare their children BEFORE they come to the theatre. With a little home preparation the ‘youngins’ would have had an even better time.
There are lots of life-lessons here and they are told through the toe-tapping score by Book Writer and Co-Lyricist Scot Copeland and Composer and Co-Lyricist and Musical Director Paul Carrol Binkley.
The real fun for me was listening to the amazing musicians play and sing: Paul Carrol Binkley on Guitar, Mandolin, and Dulcimer, Michael Casteel on Banjo and Mandolin, Toni Ferguson on Fiddle, and Joe Murphy on Bass. I would buy a CD of the wonderful, melodic, and toe-tapping score in a heartbeat.
Also contributing were Lighting Designer Scott Leathers, Costume Designer Patricia Taber, and Sound Designer, who added to the Appalachian and mystical atmosphere.
Bravo to The Kennedy Center and Nashville Children’s Theatre for bringing this wonderful production to families in the DC Metro area, and hopefully, to other families around the country and world.
Running Time: One hour, with no intermission.