The gang is back this holiday season for more fable-fed follies with Jack and the End of the World at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham. The antics of Jack Spriggins, his long suffering mother, and all the denizens of their prairie town go on stage until the final performances on December 18.
It’s a laugh filled treat that pulls at some nostalgic heart strings in a couple of ways. First of all, this year’s trials harken all the way back to the original “Jack and the Beanstalk” based panto some 17 years ago. The staple characters are all back - from the wisecracking sidebar observations of barflies Ed and Fred to the earnest and socially conscious Evelina the chicken.
Each of the cast members seamlessly drifts through a variety of characters. The shift of scenes is deftly choreographed and executed with dance-like precision.
James O’Shea makes a return as the Widow Spriggins and demonstrates his characteristic stage and vocal range, giving voice to Ed and one of the ever-present four horsepersons of the apocalypse.
Crispi Lord is another veteran of the pantos, portraying the wide-eyed, occasionally vacant but ever optimistic Jack. Audiences can’t help but cheer for Jack (literally thanks to some prompt cards) as the character stumbles through a high-stakes apocalyptic scenario.
Jenna Berenbaum gives life to Evelina and a coop full of feathered friends. Along with the other cast members, she contributes to the memorable soundtrack of original songs.
Welcome newcomers are Blaine Hart and Bongani Musa. Hart takes on the role of evil doer Monty St. Orange who plays the fool and the foil for anyone who stands in the way of his nefarious plans. A gifted guitar player, Hart anchors the troupe's musical numbers and provides clever string based sound effects throughout the performance Musa’s powerful voice is perfect for his Giant character, and a host of others, like his spin on a notable CBC broadcaster.
Artistic director Angus Ferguson has led the crew in penning a witty and topical farce. It’s got Shakespearean overtones - not in the language, but in the sensibility. On the surface, it’s an animated romp, but there’s a deeper commentary on what we’ve been through over the last couple years and the social challenges we face when technology divorces us from our lives. There are sly nods to tech oligarchs, media pundits - both “fake” and “real”, our pop culture past, and the hot topics of the day. But the bottom line is that there's plenty of laughs for all ages.
Tickets for the remaining performances are going quickly, says Angus Ferguson, so don’t miss out on the return of a holiday favourite. Show and ticket details are available at www.dancing skytheatre.com.