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Fee, fie foe... fun!

COLCHESTER Fee-fie-foe-fum! The Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk has smelled many different kinds of Jacks through the years. July 5-6, Saint Michaels Playhouse Junior presented a Jack and the Beanstalk that deftly blended assorted aromas of the English fairy tale. Although the earliest oral accounts of Jacks adventures portray Jack as a shrewd and audacious thief akin to Odysseus, Benjamin Tabarts History of Jack and the Beanstalk (1807) moralizes Jack into a dutiful and obedient boy. In Tabarts tale, Jacks stealing the Giants coins, hen, and harp is justified because the Giant had murdered Jacks father and stolen his possessions. In other words, the Giant had it comin. Some modern authors tell the tale differently. In Kate and the Beanstalk (2000), Mary Pope Osborne portrays the Giant as the traditional villain but replaces Jack with Kate, a plucky girl who fears nothing when she is doing right. Alice Stanley converts the Giant into Otto, a likeable leviathan, in her The Giant and the Beanstalk (2004). Otto descends the beanstalk searching for the boy named Jack who stole his beloved hen, Clara. After encountering various Jacks, including Little Jack Horner, Jack Sprat, Jack of Jack-and-Jill fame, and Jack the candle stick jumper, Otto finally locates the right Jack and is reunited with his cherished chicken. James Finn Garners Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (1994) ends with Jack becoming a member of the Giants cloud commune of strict vegetarians. Skillfully narrated by Lilly Tobin, Playhouse Juniors musical comedy combines elements of the old and the new. In the Playhouse Junior production, Jacks father (Matthew Mlynarski) mysteriously disappears, leaving Jack (Samuel Caswell as the young Jack, Ryan Addario as the older Jack) and his woeful mother (Hannah Whitney) struggling to look on the bright side by singing with each other and with supportive townsfolk. Eventually ascending into the clouds in the usual green, low-carbon way, Jack learns that his long-lost father has been imprisoned by the Giant (Adam Blanchard). When Jack himself is captured by the Giant, its up to the littlest girl in town (enthusiastic Emily Hemsted) to discover the Giants secret and to subdue him with the emotion that conquers all even Giants. Although they dont form a cloud commune, Jack, his family, and the Giant live happily ever after. Except for a few slow-moving plot points (like Jacks bargaining for the magic beans), Director Marc Tumminelli and Assistant Director Mary Carol Maganzini (both Equity actors) presented an entertaining and edifying show for a very appreciative audience. If you want to Jack-up your knowledge, YouTube.com has many different Jack stories. Probably the most fascinating is Lotte Reinigers 1955 silhouette animation, but you can also view such videos as Betty Boops 1931 cartoon confrontation and Bud Abbott and Lou Costellos 12-part Jack and the Beanstalk (1952). What a Jackpot!

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