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This ‘Beanstalk’ not fully grown yet

Mary Burkin

The Glendale Centre Theatre has launched another solid original

children’s musical, this time based on the story of “Jack and the



This “Jack,” featuring lovely lyrics by Byron Simpson (who also

wrote the play), is more subdued than the theater’s prior children’s

production of “Cinderella,” and director Don Woodruff leans heavily

on what’s safe at the expense of the spontaneously wacky.


The kids will be happy, although their more sophisticated parents

will miss out on feeling that delicious anticipation of the


All the actors do what they do well. Special kudos go to the

supporting cast. There’s the endearing work of Jeffery Sharrad as

Jack’s pet cow, Lassie (ask her to speak and she’ll jump up and

“moo”). There’s also the sly humor of Sean French as the Giant, Ivan

the Terrible, dressed in a Vlad the Impaler costume complete with a


wig reminiscent of Captain Hook’s long wavy hair. He sounds like

Boris Badenov from Rocky and Bullwinkle TV fame (“Dance with Ivan! Is

fun, no?”).

Maybe part of the problem lies in the old fairy tale itself. It’s

just so hard to like a boy who’s too lazy to use a nearby bridge

(there goes the whole year’s harvest -- down the creek); who so

easily sells off his best friend, the family cow, to someone clearly

hungry for a steak dinner; who’s too simple to think before trading


the cow for a bag of probably bogus magic beans; who’s too dishonest

to tell the truth about how many extra magic beans he brought along

with him to the Giant’s castle (big mistake); and who doesn’t think

twice before stealing the Giant’s harp and golden goose on his way

back home.

Clearly, poor Jack may be a skilled dreamer but he isn’t good hero

material, let alone mature enough to get married. And the brave

little Princess that Jack so accidentally rescues (sweet and

diminutive Margot Lauren) deserves something better. Of course, Jack

does have a few redeeming qualities, like finally finding the courage

to fight the Giant and tell the truth.

But without miracles or magic, can Jack ever grow up?

Glendale Centre Theatre has consistently lived up to its excellent

reputation for high production standards. While workmanlike and often

charming, this “Jack” showed promise of tighter scene changes, faster

pacing, better handling of props and richer characterizations in the

near future.

Another view of ‘Jack’

Tiffany Serembe, 7, is the daughter of Mary Burkin.

I liked it. Ivan the Giant was funny. He said “Ivan happy” and

things like that. I liked the Princess. She was pretty. She was a

good singer. I liked when we sang “Happy Birthday” for the birthday

kids in the theater.