Paper Canoe Company’s retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” is a thoroughly innovative delight in concept and execution, performed by an indie band of superb folk-pop artists led by company co-founders Tami Stronach and Greg Steinbruner. In this theatrical song cycle, mountain music and zydeco give way to soft pop and robust rock as lazy Jack wants to be left alone to daydream, but must instead obey his mother and travel “down to the mean old town” to sell their cow. The haunting hush that frames Jack’s encounter with the magic bean purveyor gives way to his hoe-down happy trip home (“Lucky Me”), his mother’s lament (“Look at Us Now”) and Jack’s leg-slapping, hand-clapping, a capella trip up the beanstalk (“UpseedoodleDo”). And this version has a romantic twist to the familiar plot. The growling “Fee Fi Fo Fum” giant—a stand-in for mean bullies everywhere (“I take your joy, I steal your fun ? I’ll have it all, you’ll get none”)—has a daughter. Her giant-soothing “Lay You Down” ballad and wistful duet with Jack, “All the Pretty Things,” are unexpectedly lovely, and when Jack escapes back down the beanstalk, the defiant pair “Steal Away” together (“Let’s run away and never look back”).
Lynne Heffley ©2018 Parents’ Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.