I made a list of notes from when I went to see the Storybook Theater’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk. Here’s what I thought was important…
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: From the very beginning, the actors went into the audience and asked kids to be “helpers”. Simple tasks like someone to hold the bag of magic beans, or volunteers to play the “cow” Jack sells to buy the beans. One kid was even brought up on stage to tell Jack’s mom that he sold the cow for the magic beans. Very simple, but totally engaging. The kids in the audience LOVED IT. By the second half they were all sitting on the edge of their seats with hands raised whenever the actors asked for helpers.
GAGS: There was a cute gag during one of the songs where fishing poles with fake food were dangled above Jack, just out of reach. The kids were cracking up. It was like fried chicken buckets and fake hamburgers and pizza slices. I thought it was funny too.
CHASING: The audience was ROARING with laughter during chase scenes. There were about 3 chasing interludes and wow, those kids loved chasing. If it worked for Benny Hill…
COSTUMES: This was the only criticism I found for this show. I feel kind of “meh” about the typical clothing scheme as it appears in this and other kids shows. More specifically: overalls. Adult actors in kids show always wear overalls it seems. I’d like to veer away from the “kids dress like this” mentality, but to where I’m not sure. I have to think more on this one.
SETS: Consisted of a reversible background about 6’x6’ on casters with the Giants castles painted on one side and Jack’s house painted on the other. Also a ladder on casters decorated as the Beanstalk.
SONGS: Repetition, repetition, repetition. They had a “rapping” giant (the giant who owns the goose that lays the golden eggs). The kids weren’t too into that part, but they seemed to dig the other songs.
Excellent research was done by going to this event. Sometimes as an adult we can assume to know what's entertaining for a kid, but seeing this show made me think differently about how make SOS interesting and engaging for a young audience.