Review: Jack’s Tale

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The Nashville Children's Theatre original production of "Jack's Tale" is a wonderful, toe-tappin' show for the whole family.

Jack’s Tale: A Mythic Mountain Musical (Feb. 19 – March 8; All ages)
Nashville Children’s Theatre
25 Middleton St., Nashville
252-4675 • nashvillect.org
Show times: Sat – Sun 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20 adults, $14 children

It’s fun to see original musicals for kids on a local stage, especially ones with nods to Nashville’s musical heritage, and the current Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) production of Jack’s Tale: A Mythic Mountain Musical comes with some mighty oomph — the show is co-commissioned by both The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Country Music Association Foundation.

In fact, before Jack’s Tale’s first performance last week at NCT, the cast presented the show’s premiere at The Kennedy Center. Created as a tribute to his Scotch-Irish roots, NCT’s Producing Director Scot Copeland wrote the book with music by composer/songwriter Paul Carrol Binkley (NCT’s long-time music director).

Copeland’s inspiration came from folk tales about an Appalachian hero named Jack as passed down from his grandmothers. In the story, Jack (delightfully portrayed by NCT stage favorite Patrick Waller) embarks on a journey to save his family’s farm from the mean Old King (Henry Haggard, who also portrays Tom and Beggarman). Using his wit and ingenuity, Waller’s character successfully prevails when facing the Blue-Beard Giant and Raggedy-Bones (a Grim Reaper-like character) — both played by Bobby Wyckoff (who also plays the role of Mama). Jack also encounters and falls in love with a girl. NCT veteran Jenny Littleton returns to the stage bringing a load of charm and whimsical fun to the role of King’s Daughter, particularly in the musical number, “Chippety-Chop/Kiss My Mouth/Tradin’ Up.” Littleton also plays Jack’s brother, Will, and the Old Woman.

Joining the cast on stage is a four-piece acoustic band led by Binkley on a variety of string instruments, Toni Ferguson (fiddle), Michael Casteel (guitar and banjo) and Joe Murphy (upright bass). The musical numbers are cleverly written and feature catchy hooks that will have kids tappin’ their toes.

At the heart of the story is the importance of one’s actions, and how an act of kindness can change an outcome. Jack’s Tale is an awesome show with a good bit of humor your whole family will enjoy experiencing together.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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