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 multisensory 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.
WHEN: January 21 – March 31, 2021
WHERE: Virtual event at https://www.metroplays.org/jacked
TICKETS: Tickets begin at $16. Registration is required to receive the link for view.
Jacked! is available to view for free (or pay-what-you-can) during the opening weekend, January 21-24.
MTC is committed to ensure that economic barriers do not prevent families from experiencing its programs. For all winter/spring productions, MTC will offer a four-day pay-what-you-can viewing period to enable those families who may need to register for free to do so.
To purchase tickets, register to view for free during the opening weekend, or for more information, please visit https://www.metroplays.org/jacked.
NOTES: Jacked! is a 40-minute production with no intermission. The production is recommended for ages 5-11. Support for Jacked! is provided by Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.
2020-21 Refreshed Season
After the opening of Jacked!, Metro Theater Company continues its refreshed winter/spring 2021 season with the following productions—virtual and in-person. Tickets go on sale January 28. To reserve and/or purchase tickets please visit metroplays.org.
And In This Corner: Cassius Clay
March 22 – April 30, 2021
Tickets start at $16 / Pay-what-you-can window March 22 – 25
Streaming at metroplays.org/virtual-field-trips
Tickets go on sale January 28.
After an extremely successful pay-per-view run this summer, MTC is pleased to bring back an encore stream of And In This Corner: Cassius Clay, which tells the story of the young man who would become Muhammad Ali and his relationship with a white police officer who introduced him to boxing in Jim Crow-era Louisville. The play was a hit of the 2015-16 theater season and generated numerous accolades for Metro Theater Company, including the Network for Strong Communities’ prestigious Paulie Award for creating positive change through collaborative nonprofit partnerships. Led by Trigney Morgan as Cassius Clay between the ages of 11 and 20, the play was celebrated by the St. Louis American for its “authentic chemistry among the cast” and its potential to encourage audiences “to channel their inner champion and fight for what’s right.” The streaming production was filmed by HEC Media during the play’s original February 2016 run at the Missouri History Museum.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show / La Oruga Muy Hambrienta Espectáculo
(In-Person, Outdoor and Socially Distant; Virtual Streaming Option Available)
April 25 – May 16, 2021
Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, 210 East Monroe Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63122
Tickets are $18-$36 / Pay-what-you-can window April 27 – 30
More information at metroplays.org/hungrycaterpillar
Tickets go on sale January 28.
He’s enchanted generations of readers since he first began nibbling his way into our hearts in 1969. Now, everyone’s favorite caterpillar takes the outdoor stage in a dazzling, critically acclaimed production – featuring a menagerie of more than 75 larger-than-life, magical puppets. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is joined by friends from three other iconic Eric Carle picture books: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, and The Very Lonely Firefly. Revisit these timeless classics with the young people in your life in an outdoor, socially distant setting, keeping you and your family safe while diving into a music-filled, big, bright, colorful world filled with transformation and discovery. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is a 60-minute production created by Jonathan Rockefeller and based on the books by Eric Carle. This English-Spanish bilingual production will be a joy for language learners of every age!
About Metro Theater Company: Since 1973, Metro Theater Company has been creating productions that respect young people’s intelligence, tell compelling stories, stimulate curiosity and provoke thoughtful reflection. The Company has reached a total audience of more than two million and has a national reputation for excellence in the field of professional theater for young audiences. Institutional support for Metro Theater Company is provided Berges Family Foundation, Regional Arts Commission, Emerson, Crawford Taylor Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Whitaker Foundation, Children’s Theater Foundation of America, Missouri Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Arts and Education Council. Metro Theater Company has received major honors and awards, both locally and nationally. The company is led by Artistic Director Julia Flood and Managing Director Joe Gfaller. For more information, visit http://metroplays.org.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.