PARK SLOPE — The always innovative and entertaining Gallery Players will be performing “Jack & the Beanstalk — Beanman’s Revenge,” an interactive children’s musical that allows children and their families to participate in a new musical written by Hilary Goldman and Kevin McAuley under their Good Idea Bears banner.
“’Jack and the Beanstalk’ is one of eight completely original interactive musicals that we’ve written for children,” Goldman told this paper. “All of our shows are reworkings of familiar tales but with an updated twist. Often times, we look to empower our characters more and tell the stories from different perspectives, putting the actions, the consequences and the lessons learned into the characters’ hands rather than allowing it to be circumstantial. We also like to make them as relatable to children today as possible.”
The plot revolves around adventure-seeking Jack and his mother who are struggling to keep their provincial coffee shop in business when the mysterious “beanman” offers them a seemingly lucrative and exciting solution.
Jack and his best friends must go on the quest of a lifetime where danger lurks along the way. The new play presents the timeless tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk” in a whole new light, complete with a singing harp, a golden egg-laying goose and a helpful gurkle (whatever that is).
“Throughout the story, our characters will invite the audience to be part of the adventure, both from their seats and by joining the actors on stage,” said McAuley. “Audience members will help our characters along their journey and play small roles in songs and action sequences. We can’t make it from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘happily ever after’ without them,” he added.
The production is directed by Goldman with musical direction by McAuley and costumes and props by Dina Grilli. The cast includes Julie Crane, Kaylie DeLauri, Caitlin Farrell, Danielle Ferretti, Erin Hanraty, Felisha Heng, Karen Mascalo Hagan, Brian Levario, Joshua Lopez and Alyson Ryan.
Ryan, who plays Jill, was born and raised in Brooklyn, and works as a kindergarten teacher in Cobble Hill’s P.S. 32. “It’s really special to be able to invite my students to our productions and have them join me onstage,” Ryan told this paper.
“I’ve had kids who are too shy to raise a hand in my class, but jump onstage and dance with us without a second thought. They feel safe and uninhibited, and are able to express themselves through this magic of imagination and theater. It’s incredible,” she added.
Goldman and her group the Good Idea Bears have been writing and performing together for six years, primarily in Brooklyn. “Doing theater for children is so rewarding, especially given the interactive element,” said Goldman.
“We give kids an opportunity to be a part of the story, as opposed to simply watching it from the sidelines. I feel as though we are helping kids be themselves, be comfortable and feel safe. I’ve seen the shyest of children jump onstage and dance with Petunia the Cow without a second thought,” added Goldman.
The Gallery Players is located at 199 14th Street. The limited run production will be presented at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29 and Saturday, March 7, and at 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 1 and Sunday, March 8. Tickets for adults and children are $8 and can be purchased at the door (cash only) or at galleryplayers.com.