BeanStalk sprouts in Boone
There’s a magic beanstalk growing in the High Country.
It might not be the stuff of fairy dust, spells and illusion, but ask a child who’s taken the BeanStalk Community Theatre stage, and they’ll tell you it’s nothing short of magical.
“That’s the most exciting thing to me,” said Andrea McDonough, the theater’s co-founder. “We had one kid who was so shy we had to put a microphone on her … and we still couldn’t hear her. To see her from last year to this year, having one of the leads in our play and telling other kids how to project — it’s wonderful to see.”
And it’s just one of the many reasons McDonough and co-founder Amy Beane — the company’s very own magic bean, if you will — started BeanStalk. The duo, with McDonough serving as executive director and Beane as creative director, worked together on children’s shows for Blue Ridge Community Theatre.
As Blue Ridge shifted its lineup to include more adult-oriented shows, McDonough and Beane wanted to create dramatic opportunities for area children.
“Children’s theater is my passion,” McDonough said. “The kids in Watauga County … don’t really have a lot of opportunities in theater arts until they get to high school. What we wanted to do was bridge that gap and give those kids a place to belong.”
Now in its second year, BeanStalk Community Theatre has risen from its origins as a children’s theater to include performers of all ages.
Both founders bring years of experience to the stage. McDonough started taking music and dance lessons at the age of 6, and she’s maintained her love of performance through adulthood, having played for Blue Ridge in Boone and The Green Room Community Theater in Newton-Conover.
Beane holds a degree in musical theater from Lees-McRae College and taught drama in Newton-Conover, “so we’ve got experience in producing plays,” McDonough said. “But there’s nothing like jumping in with both feet.”
“We’ve grown very quickly, very fast,” Beane said. “And so, we have sort of gone from being a little theater to a community theater.”
At this point, Beane said, BeanStalk is producing three shows per year and is hoping to expand its offerings. “Every two years, we’d like to add an additional show until we get about six or seven,” she said.
For Christmas 2012, BeanStalk presented “Jingle Jury,” followed by “Night at the Wax Museum” in summer 2013. The company closed the year with another Christmas production, “The One and Only Santa Claus.”
In 2014, theater-goers can expect BeanStalk’s first foray into dinner theater with “Nunsense” March 21 and 22, followed by a production of “Disney’s Aladdin” this summer. Christmas shows tend to youth-oriented, Beane said, while summer shows will feature both adults and children. “And now that we have this new spring production, we’re trying to make it an adult cast show,” she said.
“Nunsense,” which will be BeanStalk’s first all-adult production, is the second-longest-running off-Broadway show in history, a madcap tale of five nuns staging a variety show to fund the funeral of four fellow sisters accidentally poisoned by the convent cook.
“It’s dinner theater, so we’re teaming up with Casa Rustica, and we’re very excited,” Beane said. “It’s a venture out into this new realm of theater we’ve never done before, but we think it’s going to be a big hit.”
The show will take place at the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue in Boone, although the theater is still seeking a permanent home.
“Our biggest challenge is finding a venue,” McDonough said. “We’d like to increase the number of offerings we give, but we’d also like to have a home.”
As for increased offerings, BeanStalk is well on its way. McDonough said the theater recently received an arts council grant to hold after-school drama classes for area children. Dates and location have yet to be determined, but McDonough said both will be forthcoming.
In the meantime, McDonough and Beane will continue to do what they love.
“It’s wonderful working with the community,” Beane said. “Generally, a lot of people say they’re too shy to be on stage. But they’ll come in and work back stage or make props or costumes or help with set pieces. Many times, they see how fun (performing) is and think, ‘Maybe I’m not too shy to do that.’ We’ve had several people who’ve done that, so it’s really exciting.”
To join in the excitement, on stage or off, visit http://www.beanstalkcommunitytheatre.com, or call (828) 312-0263.
Tickets to “Nunsense” cost $35 apiece prior to March 1 and $40 after March 1 and are available at Boone Drug at Deerfield (345 Deerfield Road, Boone), Andrea McDonough’s State Farm Insurance office (450 New Market Blvd., Suite 1, Boone) and online at http://www.beanstalkcommunitytheatre.com. In addition, tickets for a table of eight may be purchased at McDonough’s office for a discounted price.