Mary Foster has been taking her role in the Theatricks production “Jack and the Beanstalk” very seriously. During one of the first rehearsals for the show, one of Foster’s sons had to leave the room because of how believable his mother was while scolding the character that plays Jack.
Foster took on the role of Jack’s mother in the play that began showing Friday and will continue until July 15.
“I am more excited than nervous about the opening of the show,” Foster said before Tuesday’s dress rehearsal. “I am a bit anxious anticipating the experience for the boys and I. My sons are both in the middle school age range so they do not really want to hang out with me. But, with this they have had to and it has been so much fun. “
Three hours without “Fortnite,” a video game about building, combat and destructible environments, Foster said, is a big deal.
“I could not encourage families more to do this,” she said of why she brought her boys to audition for the show. “It is something that can be outside of your wheelhouse so it could be fun. We have always been into sports and doing the summer leagues. We ran around doing all-stars (games). So jokingly, we said that we were tired of baseball this summer, so we wanted to do something different. Doing this has been left field. It has challenged my boys in ways that they have not been challenged before on the field and in the classroom. They have made new friends and built new relationships. We are now a part of this community that we had no idea existed.”
Foster and her two sons auditioned for the show on a whim one night after having a family dinner.
“We were eating dinner with my brother-in-law and sister,” Foster said. “They had auditioned on that Monday. They said, ‘Hey, you should come back and audition with us tonight.’ We had no idea what we were walking into. I just kind of dragged my boys along. They did not really know what we were going to do. We read the parts and it was hysterical. We did no thinking. We had no time to be nervous.”
And, Foster said, she just fell into the mother character in the play.
“Most of the play is pretty tongue and cheek, but there is a moment that has a lot of levity to it so it is kind of about the relationship between a parent and child,” she said. “You get to see just how deep that relationship can really be. This play is fun and fantasy, but it has some really good relationships in it.”
It was during that scene that Foster’s 10-year-old son told his mom that she was being too intense and that he could not handle hearing her speak that way.
“It was hysterical because I am not sure what he was thinking, but it reminded him of he and me and our family,” she said. “It’s just acting though. He is not even on the stage during that scene.”
However, Nicholas Williams, 14, is on the stage as the lead character, Jack.
“There were a lot of people that could have been Jack for this show,” he said. “My mom and I talked about the competition for the role, I was really surprised when I got it.”
This is Williams’ fifth show with Theatricks and the first one where his role has been this big.
“My favorite scene is probably the second to last one,” he said. “It is the one where I go up and find the singing harp and the giant grabs my father. I get to stab him with the sword.”
For this role, there were two things that Williams really had to work on. The first was blocking.
“One of the biggest things that I did not realize was how much blocking goes into this,” he said. “There were some shows where we could fend for myself and figure out where we wanted to go, but with Theatricks, they tell you exactly where you go and what you do with your hands and stuff.”
The second challenge for Williams was projecting to the back of the stage.
“I never realized how loudly they had to talk until I got up on the stage,” he said. “You have to talk really, really loud or else the people in the back cannot hear you. In ‘Robin Hood,’ I was not projecting throughout the first half. Then I was asking Mr. Crocker if we could make a small change. It was a little logistical thing, but he said I could do that as long as I promised to project. A big technique thing is you cannot be too loud. There is a difference between screaming and projecting, but you cannot be too loud. I have never once heard anyone say that an actor is being too loud. You just have to be as loud as you can.”
Foster is not the only newcomer to Theatricks with this production. Becca Josephine Davis, 11, will be playing the role of Adalah.
“My sister Sarah did plays and now is in New York producing things off-Broadway,” she said of why she decided to audition for a Theatricks production. “One of my favorite movies has an amazing actress, Meg Donnelly, and she inspired me to get into acting.”
Davis said she cannot wait for people to see some of the scenes her character is in.
“It was a really new experience for me,” she said. “I had done a play that was like a workshop and everyone got a part. I had never experienced auditions before. It was kind of nerve-wrecking for this to be my first audition.”
Davis said her favorite scene is in act two.
“I get to torture people and that is fun,” she said. “The hardest scene was probably the fight scene because it is really tiring after a while.”
Sarah McGinn, 15, and others showed Foster and Davis the Theatricks ropes when play rehearsals started. McGinn has been doing plays with the Sherman Community Players and Theatricks for eight years.
“I love the community here,” she said. “I love the feeling of putting a production together. The process of doing the show and putting everything together.”
McGinn went on to say that she cannot wait for others to experience the adrenaline rush that happens just before the start of a show.
“Especially the first night, it feels a bit otherworldly,” she said before Tuesday’s dress rehearsal. “When you are doing the performance for an audience, I get this big rush of energy and I just think, ‘I have got to get out there and give them the best show.’ It is a really good feeling and I really love it.”
A few of McGinn’s favorite performances at Theatricks and SCP were “Les Misérables,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Charlotte’s Web.”
“It is really satisfying getting to see people’s faces,” she said. “I also love the applause. We put a lot of work into it and really hope that people enjoy it. I am most excited for people to see the chicken and the giant’s wife. Those are probably two of my favorite characters in this show.”
Presentations of the Theatricks production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Honey McGee Playhouse in Sherman. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or by calling 903-892-8818.