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Live ‘Jack and the Bean-Stalk’ Comes to 1st Stage

Remember those wonderfully wacky Looney Tunes cartoons you once watched while now you seek nearby family entertainment that you can enjoy with your children. Bringing these two interests together, 1st Stage takes a step forward for professional theater in the area. Working in partnership with First Draft, an Arlington-based company that develops new works with local audiences, the fairy tale “Jack and the Bean-Stalk” is coming to the stage in a theater adaptation set to live music.

“Expanding our programming to include theater that’s fun for the whole family has been part of our vision since we opened 1st Stage,” said Artistic Director Mark Krikstan. “We are delighted to bring this new play” to our stage.

“Jack and the Bean-Stalk” is the fairy tale of the boy who sells the family cow for a few beans, much to his widowed mother’s displeasure. The beans really were magical and combined with Jack’s curiosity, he finds an astonishing magical world. Taking that outline, local playwright Mario Baldessari said he developed the new play by using “Warner Brothers’ cartoon flair” as the characters and actions are thoroughly rubbery.

Baldessari developed the quirky nature of his play “with a wink to the old fairy tale with lots of laughter and no one dies.” Each of the characters is meant to entertain, not scare, even the youngest child. According to Baldesarri, “the Giant is non-threatening; really not very good at his job as a frightening figure. He even carries a carrot rather than a club.”

Leslie A. Kobylinski, First Draft Artistic Director, said “the comic production is aimed at younger audiences, but with lots of laughs built in for adults. It’s a perfect fit for families who want to share the joy of live-performance with their children.” Rex Daugherty wrote the score that will be played as live guitar throughout the show. He said the music is “a variety pack of whimsical tunes, from hip-hop to melodrama, and from folk to flamenco."

The production is the first partnership between 1st Stage and First Draft. Kobylinski said, “In these current times, I know that families are being careful with their limited entertainment budgets and that affordable family entertainment can be elusive.” But, she said, “live theater can be such a wonderful family bonding experience and we are making Jack and the Bean-Stalk accessible by having weekday performances and special family night shows.”