Metro Theater Company (MTC), St. Louis’s premiere professional theater for youth and families, continues its refreshed 2020-21 season with the virtual production of Jacked! (available January 21 – March 31, 2021 at metroplays.org). Written by award-winning playwright Idris Goodwin (Ghost, And In This Corner: Cassius Clay) and inspired by the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, Metro Theater Company reworked what was initially planned as an in-person touring production into an imaginative, fully virtual experience that combines hand-drawn animation, spoken word poetry, and behind-the-scenes studio footage. Jacked! is set to a fresh, energetic hip-hop score by Jackie “Jackpot” Sharp, featuring vocals and rap by the popular St. Louis punk pop duo, The Knuckles. Actor Jarris L. Williams, who recently played the lead character in Metro Theater Company’s production of Ghost, takes on the role of Jack.
Jacked! is Jack and the Beanstalk with a modern-day twist. In this reimagined world, Jack and his mother struggle to live happily ever after. When his farm, which was once green and fertile, can no longer feed him; when his community can no longer support him; and when his mother can’t take care of him, Jack takes matters into his own hands. After climbing the beanstalk and stealing the giant’s goose, Jack flees home and discovers the goose’s golden eggs have a mysterious, intoxicating power that turns his world upside down. How can something so good make everything bad? Can Jack turn things around to save his village?
Created and developed for children ages 5-11, Jacked! fuses storytelling and poetry with hip hop and break-beat music in a multi-sensory virtual production designed to engage the audience on multiple levels, coming as close as possible to the active engagement of a live performance. It’s also an allegory that uses the familiar story of Jack and the Beanstalk as a launching point to explore the impact of substance abuse for very young audiences, encouraging a gentle dialogue about its effects on our communities.
Directed by Jamie McKittrick (The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus, Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure), Jacked! features hand-drawn animation using artwork by visual artist and theatre veteran Nicholas Kryah, who previously served as MTC’s resident artist for 37 years. Kryah crafted abstract visuals using watercolor, pen and ink drawing, and textured collage designs to make Jacked! feel viscerally touchable despite its two-dimensional delivery method. Editor Michael Tran, inspired by flip books, stop-action animation and early animation techniques, brought Kryah’s designs to life along with Jackie “Jackpot” Sharp’s rich hip-hop score. Costume designer Dorathy Lee Johnston rounds out the creative team.
For more information, go to https://www.metroplays.org/jacked .