‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ Back at Towngate

Cast members of “Jack and the Beanstalk” continue to bring the show to life on the stage at Towngate Theatre in Wheeling. Pictured, clockwise from left, are Mike Blanton, Justin Swoyer (giant), Maria McKelvey and Jana Lu Schodzinski (harp).

WHEELING — Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum. We smell another wonderful fairytale coming to Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre. “Jack and the Beanstalk” wraps up this weekend with performances tonight and on Saturday afternoon.

The production is part of Oglebay Institute’s children’s theater season, which brings classic stories from the page to the stage.

In this colorful adaptation, Jack’s mother instructs him to sell their cow. He ends up with magic beans instead of money. Soon, a giant beanstalk grows and Jack finds himself in a magical land above the clouds. The show includes humor and adventure, colorful costumes, engaging characters and valuable moral lessons.

Director Dave Henderson has assembled a multi-generational cast of talented local actors. Cast members include: Justin Swoyer, Mike Blanton, Maria McKelvey, Elizabeth Jeffers, Elaine Pusz, Alex Fabrizio, Shane Young, Jana Lu Schodzinski, Patricia Jeffers, Isaac Swoyer, Taylor Andrews, Abigia Smith, Owen Dobrzynoski and May Devine.

Tim Thompson, Oglebay Institute director of performing arts, said taking kids to the theater is beneficial in more ways than just providing entertainment.

“Theater helps boost literacy. Words and characters jump from the page to the stage, connecting children to the importance of reading. Theater also teachers skills such as empathy, critical thinking and teamwork,” he said.

In today’s digital world, Thompson said, it is even more important to connect with human beings in person rather than just on screens.

“Kids watch the actors working together onstage. They see that real people are behind entertainment and realize performers are not just images on TV or computer screens. Live action happens right before their eyes. There’s no app for that,” he said, “Theater is a social experience and it is meant to be shared with one another.”

Curtain time for “Jack and the Beanstalk” is 7 p.m. today and 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Purchase tickets online at www.oionline.com or by calling 304-242-7700.

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