Jack and the Beanstalk

The Red Brick Hall, Wellington

07/04/2007 - 21/04/2007

Production Details

adapted by Rob Ormsby
directed by Rachel More


How three little beans grew into a very tall tale!

The crazy story of a boy who finds hope in three magic beans. Jack’s father has mysteriously disappeared, leaving Jack and his mother so poor they have to sell their cow for food. Jack is tricked into selling his cow for three beans and when his mother throws them down the well, overnight they grow into a huge vine reaching right up to the sky! Jack climbs the beanstalk and unwittingly starts his search to uncover the truth.

Meet old moo the cow, the golden goose, the singing harp and of course …FEE FI FO FUM …THE GIANT! in this endearing tale of courage and dreams come true.

Another hilarious adaptation of a much loved Fable from the pen of Rob Ormsby.

Rob has enjoyed a busy and varied career. He has worked with Mime International, appeared in The Wind in the Willows at Circa Theatre, and as Lumiere in the Disney Musical Beauty and The Beast. Rob has written and directed a number of shows, including writing last year’s hugely successful The Princess and the Pea and was the administrator of “KidzStuff Theatre for Children” for several years.

Jamie McCaskill
Gareth Williams
Brooke Williams
Gene Alexander

Theatre , Children’s , Family ,

45 mins, no interval

Full of humour for young and old

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Apr 2007

The first of this year’s theatre attractions for the holidays is a very lively adaptation by Robert Ormsby for Kidz Stuff Theatre for Children of the classic tale of how three little beans grow into a very tall tale – Jack and the Beanstalk.

On a very bright and creative set the familiar story of how Jack (Jamie McCaskill) sells Missy Moo (Brooke Williams), the family cow, for three magic beans, much to the annoyance of his Mother (Gareth Williams), is told with polish and pizzazz by the spirited cast under the direction of Rachel More.

In this adaptation Jack’s Father (Gene Alexander) disappeared when looking for the Hen that lays the Golden Egg and the magic Harp so that when Jack throws the magic beans away and they turn – very ingeniously in this production – into a beanstalk, Jack of course decides to climb it in search of his father.

Although the story becomes a little convoluted when he’s in the land of the Giant, there is still enough physical action on stage to hold the attention of the younger members of the audience. The play is also full of humour for both young and old with catchy tunes interspersed with the dialogue that makes it a great piece of holiday entertainment.


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Village theatre at its best

Review by John Smythe 07th Apr 2007

There is something especially magical about the way Kidz Stuff theatre conjures up their holiday shows in a hall that, it has to be said, is not well appointed for live performance. Their picture-book sets – in this case designed by Rachel More (the director) and Rob Ormsby (who has dramatised and adapted Jack and the Beanstalk from multiple traditional sources) and brightly lit by Sonia Hardie – invite us into the ‘make believe’ while creating the necessary backstage hiding places.

The kids cluster on the floor up the front, the parents/grandparents and lap-borne littlies sit on forms and old school chairs. The hall lights fade, the stage lights glow, the characters appear … and we are transported. It’s village theatre at its best.

While Ormsby’s script is liberally sprinkled with topical references (“I’ll tell Aunty Susan!” when Jack’s mum wants to wallop him with her broom), its moral heart is stronger than most of the versions I’ve read. This isn’t a lazy and stupid Jack scoring big on a get-rich-quick scheme by murdering the giant.

The hen that lays the golden eggs – or used to before it was traumatised by imprisonment – belonged to Jack’s long-lost trader Dad in the first place and was stolen by the giant. The father’s absence and Jack’s poignant “Did you know my father?”, even to his mother, helps to justify his preference for dreaming instead of doing chores. And when Lucky the Hen, and the pop covers singer called Harpie who breaks into song phrases instead of dialogue (a twist of the traditional golden harp) are liberated by Jack, there is no Giant killing involved.

Jamie McCaskill hits exactly the right notes as the well-meaning but easily distracted and would-be adventurous Jack, and his strong singing voice is a great bonus. Gareth Williams brings a wry comic tone to Jack’s Mother and the officious Mighty Mite, who needs to sight Jack’s licence before he’s allowed to climb the beanstalk. He also plays the Giant as a projected shadow which, although it is an inspired idea, didn’t quite gel at the opening performance. The shadow’s features were indistinct so hard to credit.

Brooke Williams mines a rich Kiwi comedy vein as Missy Moo, the cow that must be sold so Jack and his mother can eat, and Lucky the aforementioned Hen who, inevitably, proves to be a bit chicken when it comes to heroic adventures. Gene Alexander completes the strong ensemble as the Jack’s father in a flashback, the tricky Salesman who buys Missy for three beans, and Harpie the compulsive pop singer.

The three beans enrich the story by representing Hope, Courage and Dreams Come True. The beanstalk is ingeniously manifested and the illusion of climbing it, both up and down, is achieved with skill. The audience participation elements work a treat with an audience that’s into it right from the start.

Astutely directed by Rachel More to engage children and adults of all ages, this Jack and the Beanstalk continues Kidz Stuff Theatre For Children’s strong tradition of delivering holiday theatre that entertains in the best sense of the term.


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