Underdog on top in ‘The Jack Tales’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 21, 2013

SALISBURY — Whoever wears the hat becomes the Jack.
Piedmont Players Theatre’s production of “The Jack Tales” begins with an empty stage containing a straw hat placed on the back of a wooden chair.
Each actor who puts on the hat transforms into an underdog named Jack who outwits robbers, giants, witches, devils and big brothers.
“There is a technique involved here called story theater,” Director Reid Leonard said. “Basically, you say ‘once upon a time’ and you become whatever you want. You don’t have to have a costume to say you’re a giant.”
Leonard said “The Jack Tales” is a series of folk tales, set in the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, that have been turned into plays. Youth are performing six of them, which are about 10 minutes each, at the Norvell Theater.
“It should be unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” he said.
Josh Doyle, 17, said the plays are really about Jack overcoming his fears.
“It’s amazing,” he said.

Doyle is excited to have a role in his second Piedmont Players production.
“In ‘13′ I was just a person that sang and danced. I was basically the sidekick of one of the main characters,” he said. “Now, I play Jack’s big brother Bill, so I have a lot more lines.”
Joseph Clark, 11, said “The Jack Tales” is his seventh Piedmont Players show.
“I enjoy straight plays like this more than musicals,” he said. “I like to sing and dance, but I like really getting a chance to focus on acting.”
Clark said he enjoys being part of plays because he gets to meet so many new people.
“Theater is my absolute favorite thing,” he said.
Clark said he likes the balance of “The Jack Tales.”
“It’s funny, but it also has a serious side to it,” he said. “It’s a really entertaining story.”
Fourth- and fifth-graders from the Rowan-Salisbury School System are viewing the show this week before it opens to the public Friday.
Leonard said Piedmont Players typically performs Shakespeare for middle school students during the fall and does a show for second- and third-graders right before Christmas.
“It’s an introduction to live theater,” he said. “This show for fourth- and fifth-graders is a little more involved than what they would normally see.”
Leonard said the cast includes students from fifth grade through high school, which should make it appealing to a wide range of audiences.
“Kids of all ages should love it,” he said.
View more photos online.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, March 1 and 2; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and March 2
Where: Norvell Theater

Tickets: $10 for adults, $8 students and seniors. Call box office at 704-633-5471.from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday