Jack to the future

Chickenshed’s senior creative producer Dave Carey on what audiences can expect from this year’s Christmas show

Dress rehearsals for Jack! are now taking place
Dress rehearsals for Jack! are now taking place (credit Chickenshed)

This year’s winter production at Chickenshed is a modern take on Jack and the Beanstalk.

Set on a decaying amusement arcade in a downtrodden seaside town, Jack is drawn into a video game that signals the beginning of an epic journey. Desperately trying to complete the many different levels, Jack travels on a quest to conquer fears and ultimately find the future that he has longed for.

Being a Chickenshed show, it’s created around a cast of 600 young people who represent the breadth of the community. For this production there are two actors taking on the role of Jack, for different shows. The fact they are different genders has meant exploring how we label genders. An added complexity has been creating songs that need to work in different keys to suit the two actors involved.

As always, the involvement of such a large cast is at the forefront of our thoughts. Engaging our young people to be a central part of the creative process is what sets a Chickenshed show apart. Workshops before the summer allowed that input to develop the story and the script as well as the design ideas.

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The three computer levels Jack must succeed at to reach the final level were designed and created by the cast. But even with a finished script and music, the show will evolve as the complex rehearsal schedule begins. It’s important that each cast member sees their value and contribution to the show as an essential element.

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For this year’s production the music will be performed by more than 25 young musicians playing everything from drums and bass to French horns and oboes. The resulting music is a truly a unique blend of energy, professionalism and joy. As always, Chickenshed’s striking choreography takes centre stage and the set pieces where our casts can really strut their stuff make for a breathless spectacle.

It is a bright, colourful and anarchic world that Jack enters, which mirrors the diverse lived experience of our young people that Chickenshed’s approach taps into. From ghoulish monsters to pinball wizards and the land of the giant, the show weaves an uplifting story of acceptance and difference.

Jack! is just one of three shows that Chickenshed will be performing during the festive period. Christmas Tales is a fun show for children aged up to seven years. Puppets, singing, dancing and some larger-than-life characters are guaranteed to entertain the very youngest of audiences – and grown-ups too, leaving everyone happy and joyful at this wonderful time of the year.

For our youngest audiences, the under-threes, we have Christmas Planet Play, bringing the magical world of sensory learning, wonder and exploration – perfect for babies and toddlers – to the Chickenshed stage.

Jack! opens on 23rd November and runs until 7th January. For more information Chickenshed’s Christmas shows and to buy tickets:

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