‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ panto opens Friday

‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ panto opens Friday

Jay Pyette

December 5, 2019, by Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

Montana Actors’ Theatre annual holiday pantomime production this year is “Jack and the Beanstalk,” with performances starting Friday, 7 p.m., at the Little Theater in Cowan Hall on Montana State University-Northern’s campus.

The production will run for three weekends and is directed by MAT’s Artistic Director Grant Olson.

It is the fourth year MAT has produced a pantomime, or panto, for the Christmas season.

Olson said when he was studying theater in London, pantos were performed at Christmastime and he thought it was a good idea to try here in Havre.

Havreite Martin Holt took the lead in writing the script for the production.

“Martin is the king of bad puns and that’s what pantos are all about, horrible puns,” Olson said. “(Pantos) are family-friendly. They are basically fractured fairy tales, which are fairy tales that everyone knows, but that are set wonky and things go awry.

“It’s definitely for kids, but it has a lot of things for adults, too,” he added.

Olson said “Jack and the Beanstalk” is considered the original story made into a panto and not only was it the first one, but it also one that has been constantly redone. Other fairy tales that can be made into pantos are “Aladdin,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Cinderella” and more.

“We thought ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ would be a fun one to do,” he said, adding that pantos are done as slap-stick comedy with a lot of audience participation.

“It’s both for kids and for the adults,” Olson said. “There is going to be stuff aimed directly at getting the kids singing and dancing and interacting with the actors, but there’s a of, like, winks at the adults, kind of PG-13 jokes that are hidden completely.”

“There will be some interesting beanstalk jokes,” he said, laughing.

The Backstage Lounge will open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for students, seniors and members of the military; and free to Northern students with a valid ID.

And MAT will go right into working on its next production.

The troupe is holding auditions Wednesday, Dec. 11, and Thursday, Dec. 12 for its production of “Mamma Mia.”

“Mamma Mia” is a world-famous musical about a wedding, a daughter, a mother and three possible fathers. The play that on Broadway and has spawned two motion pictures.

The auditions are from 6 to 8 p.m. each night in the Little Theatre in Cowan Hall on the Montana State University-Northern campus.

“Mamma Mia” will be directed by MAT Childrens/Youth Director Angie Pratt.

Dame Trott, as played by Josh Gomez, performs a monologue Wednesday alongside Jack, played by Hannah Bricker, and the cow, played by Marlee Thivierge and Carinna Kline during a rehearsal of Montana Actors’ Theatre’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

For people interested in auditioning, Pratt said, she is looking for about a 20-member cast of people who are willing to learn and put on a great show.

“Prospective actors need to come prepared to sing a piece from the show (without musical backup), learn and perform a dance, and be ready to read excerpts from the script that will be provided at audition,” she said. “No roles have been precast and new actors are always welcome.”

The audition is for two male roles ages 20 to 25, one male role ages 20 to 30, three female roles ages 20-25, three female roles ages 40-50, three male roles ages 40-50, and spots in the show’s chorus.

“Rehearsals will be in the evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., four days a week until the show,” Pratt said. “It is a fun show in many ways which makes for excitement. I’m always excited to work with people who love to put together a project like this.”

The production will premiere Friday, March 13, and will run for the month’s remaining weekends.

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