Magic bean leads to new adventure in Coterie play

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By Bob Evans

For this show, “Jack and the Bean Magico!” do not get too comfy in your seat because the show relies heavily on audience participation and the audience will be requested to perform both seated, standing, singing, line-dancing, and making bug sounds to help Jack with his adventure above the clouds when in the giant’s garden.

The Coterie’s newest production starring a dynamic duo of Freddy Acevedo as Jack and Jake Walker as the Gardener/Papa/the Giant/Squirm the Worm opened Friday, April 20 to a group of very enthusiastic youngsters (old and young) in The Coterie Theatre on the lower level of Kansas City’s Crown Center. The play, mainly targeted to the younger attendees had them jumping, singing, climbing the beanstalk, dancing, Conga-line weaving throughout the performance space with tons of joy. When watching this adults, can see what pre-school and Kindergarten teachers can do to wind up a classroom of overly-excited kids.

Suffice it to say, “Jack and the Bean Magico!” is like a semi-controlled recess, but with everyone participating in the same game. The farmer begins with audience participation to ask the younger audience what makes a garden grow and how to plant seeds. But, he’s soon interrupted by Jack, a young man on a mission to sell his toys to buy some food for his family. The story begins along the lines of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and there are some similarities, but the story changes a lot.

Jack trades his toys for a magic bean and climbs above the clouds and finds himself in the giant’s garden where he learns about how the earth grows plants, but with the help of bugs and worms. Jack learns there is more to growing than just putting seeds in the ground–some outside magic helps the garden grow.

“Jack and the Bean Magico!” is an imaginative and adventurous new adaptation of the classic fairytale, “Jack and the Beanstalk,” that tells the story with the audience’s help,” according to The Coterie. “The play uses original music as well as a script in both English and Spanish to reimagine the tale of young Jack, whose family lives on a farm that won’t grow anything. Compelled at first to sell his toys to help feed his hungry family, Jack instead encounters a mysterious gardener who trades him everything he owns for a single magic bean. Jack recruits the audience to help him plant and grow the bean into a towering stalk. The audience then assists Jack as he climbs the beanstalk and finds that it leads to the giant’s rich and fertile garden. Through music and interactive storytelling, Jack and the Bean Mágico! takes

young audiences and their families on a highly-engaging and fun-filled

journey.”

The unique format of the play uses both English and Spanish, but fear not, the context allows everyone to follow the story if not the language. Enough is repeated in English for American students and enough in Spanish for Spanish-speaking students (and parents) to understand.

This play is definitely intended for the younger audiences, but be forewarned, some children may get upset because Jack gives away his toys to members of the audience, only to take them back to give to the farmer. With this younger, target audience, that’s difficult. It was the only part of the play that distracts from the story. The option to give the toys to an older child or an adult seated on the floor would be more appropriate.

The play is a lot of fun, and while short on following the traditional story of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” it changes to a different kind of story that teaches children the value of taking care of Mother Earth and the importance of bugs, worms, and composting to make magic for the soil to produce better.

The show features about 10-15 minutes of direct audience participation, and everyone inside the auditorium is encouraged to get up, get with it, and participate. For the kids, this is great and they will want to come again.

For the adults, just watching the two characters work through this piece is amazing. UMKC student Freddy Acevedo creates a believable, energetic Jack and Jake Walker just charms the audience with his array of characters–most notably, Squirm the Worm.

Local attraction, Powell Gardens teams with The Coterie to produce “Jack and the Bean Mágico!” Powell Gardens is a botanical garden that features various displays of plants throughout the year. As part of their partnership with The Coterie, on Sunday, April 29, Powell Gardens will offer a free post-show event which will invite young people to make a biodegradable Eco Pot by planting green bean seeds in a newspaper pot they can take home. More information about Powell Gardens is available the Powell Gardens website.

“Jack and the Bean Mágico!” will run approximately 60 minutes with no intermission and will be appreciated by families with ages 4 to 8. The production is funded in part by the Missouri Arts Council, Art Works, and The Theater League. It is produced in community partnership with Powell Gardens

The Coterie, now in its 39th Season and named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences in the U.S.” by TIME magazine, will perform Jack and the Bean Mágico! April 17 – May 20, in The Coterie Theatre, located on level one of the Crown Center Shops in Kansas City, Missouri. Individual Tickets: Tickets are $11 for youth under 18, students, and seniors age 60 and older; and $15 for adults.

Subscriptions: In lieu of season subscriptions, The Coterie offers the Spotlight Club Pass, which works like a season ticket without committing to a set schedule. Spotlight Club members pay $100 for a flexible pass that includes 10 tickets – a savings of 40% off individual ticket prices that can be used for any show or combination of shows in the 2017/2018 Season. All tickets and Spotlight Club Passes may be purchased by calling The Coterie’s box office at (816) 474-6552, dropping by the box office on level one of the Crown Center Shops, or by visiting The Coterie website.

Several special performances are Fridays April 27, May 4, 11, and 18 with a free post-show opportunity to meet the cast and get autographs. Saturday, April 28 a special American Sign Language show begins at 2 p.m. On April 29, Powell Gardens hosts a post-performance event to learn how to make biodegradable Eco Pot by planting green bean seeds in a newspaper pot to take home.

 

Tags:  The Coterie Theatre, Crown Center, Kansas City, “Jack and the Bean Magico!”, Kansas City Theater, Children’s Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

Images courtesy of The Coterie Theatre, J. Robert Schrader & The Coterie Theatre and Bob Evans | KC Applauds

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