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Jack and the Wild Goose Chase or Harlequin Hatched

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Jack and the Wild Goose Chase or Harlequin Hatched, Piccolo Theatre Company, at the McGaw YMCA Child Care Center Auditorium. It's a charming idea: do a traditional English Christmas pantomime, which fractures fairy tales using farce, music, and magic. But Piccolo Theatre has instead created a pantomime homage, which like an anatomy dummy represents all parts of the body but not its life. The goings-on are muddy--what does the goose have to do with the cow, the fairy, the pastry chef?--and at two hours the show is far too long. The songs--with music by Rich Maisel and lyrics by Ken Raabe, who also wrote the book--are tuneless and forgettable, and director John Szostek's pacing is painfully slow. But Joshua Allard's costumes are a joy to behold.

The performances generally outstrip the material. As Jack, Denita Linnertz is completely earnest and therefore quite funny. Deborah Craft is wordlessly absurd as the goose that lays the golden eggs, rising superbly above jokes about the need for "Eggs-Lax." David W.M. Kelch plays the villain with a fine Harvey Korman energy, and Raabe wrings every comic drop from his role as a giant whose feet become his only outsize part. Unfortunately Szostek is unequal to the role of Jack's mother: he's doing a bad imitation of Lucille Ball, who was in turn doing a coarsened version of panto.

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