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PrideArts to Present US Premiere of JACK OFF THE BEANSTALK Panto

Whalley’s take on the fairy tale of the boy who steals magic beans from a giant atop a huge beanstalk adds several characters, and includes audience participation.

PrideArts to Present US Premiere of JACK OFF THE BEANSTALK Panto

To borrow the catchphrase from the Monty Python TV series, PrideArts will next present "something completely different" for the holidays by bringing the British theatrical genre of panto to Chicago. Panto (short for pantomime, but not to be confused with mime), is a tradition with roots going back to Commedia Dell'Arte, and is a loud, fun, enjoyable musical comedy theatre production that takes well-loved children's tales and turns them into a show full of giggles for kids along with subtle adult-minded jokes.

PrideArts' holiday show, though, will be the US Premiere of a very adult holiday panto that premiered in London in 2013 and has enjoyed multiple productions around the UK since then. JACK OFF THE BEANSTALK was written by Tom Whalley, arguably the leading panto artist of Great Britain. While Whalley has written for general, all-family audiences, he has additionally created several pantos, like this one, that are strictly for adults. PrideArts' production will be a full-scale musical, with popular songs performed live by the cast, a four-piece band, and lively choreography. The show is recommended for ages 18 +. Press opening is Thursday, December 1 at 7:30 pm, following previews November 28-30. The production will play through December 18, 2022, at the Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago.

Whalley's take on the traditional fairy tale of the boy who steals magic beans from a giant atop a huge beanstalk adds several characters - Princess Jill, who is a love interest for Jack and is kidnapped by the giant and his evil henchman Fleshlight. An ally for Jack Trott and his mother Dame Trott is Fairy Flick Bean. Though British in origin, JACK OFF THE BEANSTALK will include many local references and inside jokes, as is also part of the panto tradition. Songs, performed live by the cast and backed up by a four-piece band, will include favorites by such American artists as Kelly Clarkson and Whitney Houston. With audience participation involving call and response reactions, and with alcoholic drinks (available in the lobby for a donation) allowed inside the theater, the audience experience will be as much a party as attending a live performance.

JACK OFF THE BEANSTALK will be directed by Bryan McCaffrey, whose credits include stage and musical direction for PARADE, GUYS AND DOLLS, and SOMETHING ROTTEN for Theatre Nebula; PASSING STRANGE for Porchlight Music Theatre, and A CHRISTMAS KAROL: A HOLIDAY INTERVENTION for PrideArts in 2021. Music direction is by Anna Wegener, whose recent credits include PARADE and GUYS AND DOLLS (Theatre Nebula), QUEER EYE: THE MUSICAL PARODY (The Second City), and NOTES AND LETTERS (Underscore Theater). The choreographer is Ariana Cappuccitti, who recently choreographed SPONGEBOB: THE MUSICAL, CHICAGO, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, and BIG FISH in the Chicago suburbs and has performed in WONDERFUL TOWN (Goodman Theatre), FUNNY THING... FORUM (Porchlight Music Theatre), MAMMA MIA (Music Theatre Works) and SOMETHING ROTTEN (Theatre Nebula).

The cast who will deliver the outrageous humor, raunchy puns, and sexual innuendo of Whalley's creation includes Joe Lewis, seen in PrideArts' GIRLFRIEND and in 2021's CHRISTMAS KAROL: A HOLIDAY INTERVENTION CABARET, as Jack. His love interest, the Princess Jill, will be played by Anna Seibert (of SHOUT! at Metropolis Art Center). Eustace Allen, whose credits include MODIGLIANI, and NIGHT OF THE IGUANA for The Artistic Home; and INTIMATE APPAREL and AFTER THE FALL for Eclipse Theatre, will be Jack's mother, Dame Trott. Neill Kelly (of Theatre Nebula's PARADE) is Fleshlight and will also understudy Dame Trott. Hannah Eisendrath will be Fairy Flick Bean, and Tyler Callahan is Fist the Cow. Additional understudies are Sam Martin (Jack), Lisa Fiori (Jill), Peter Moeller (Fleshlight, Fist), and Sara Torre (Fairy Flick Bean).
The production team, in addition to McCaffrey, Wegener and Cappuccitti, includes Victoria Jablonski (Costume Designer), Brett Baleskie (Scenic Designer), Amelia Simonoff (Lighting Designer), Valerio Toretta Gardner (Sound Designer), Carlos Concetta (Sound Engineer) AlJoya Hall (Master Electrician), Emma Ferguson (Props Designer, Assistant Stage Manager), and Christa Retka (Stage Manager).

Performances will begin with previews November 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 pm each night. Opening night is Thursday, December 1 at 7:30 pm. Regular performance schedule is Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm. Tickets $35 for regular performances, $25 for previews. Seniors and students receive a $5 discount off regular performance prices. Tickets are on sale now online at www.pridearts.org.



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