Jack and the Beanstalk - A Musical Emergency

October 11, 2003

Song files Full text of
original story
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Jack: The Story of Jack and the Beanstalk as told by Joseph Jacobs, Andrew Lang, Edwin Sidney Hartland, and several dozen others

Once upon a time there was a poor widow who had an only son named Jack and a cow named Milky-white. And all they had to live on was the milk the cow gave every morning, which they carried to the market and sold. But one morning Milky-white gave no milk and they didn't know what to do.

SONG: "Jack's Mother's Song" - Marty

"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said the widow, wringing her hands.

"Cheer up, mother, I'll go and get work somewhere," said Jack.

"We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his mother. "We must sell Milky-white to get money for bread."

"All right, mother," says Jack. "It's market day today, and I'll soon sell Milky-white, and then we'll see what we can do."

So he took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he started. He hadn't gone far when he met a funny-looking old man who said to him: "Good morning, Jack."

"Good morning to you," said Jack, wondering how the man knew his name.

"Well, Jack, where are you off to?" said the man.

SONG: "Little Blue Diamond" - Craig Demel

"I'm going to market to sell our cow here."

"Oh, you look the proper sort of chap to sell cows," said the man. "In fact, because I know you are keen to get a good price, I will give you five magic beans for your cow.” And with that the stranger opened his hand to reveal a number of strange, colorful beans.

“Magic beans?” echoed Jack.

“Indeed,” said the man. "If you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky."

"Really?" said Jack. "You don't say so."

"See if it isn’t true!" said the old man.

“Well, this is a strange turn,” thought Jack. He held Milky White’s halter tightly and eyed the unusual beans.

After a moment, Jack said "Right," handing Milky-White's halter over to the stranger and pocketing the beans.

SONG: Erica & Buz

SONG: Cathy Lynch

When Jack returned home, his mother was furious and reprimanded him sternly: "You fool! What have you done? We needed the money to buy bread. Now we don't have anything and we are even poorer."

SONG: Mark Hechim

Jack felt guilty and sad. "Only a fool would exchange a cow for five beans," his mother fumed.

SONG: Craig Demel & Mom

Then, at the height of her exasperation, she threw the five beans out of the window.

SONG: "Jack Lacks" - Heather Wyers

Jack's mother sent him to bed with no dinner, for there was no food to eat.

SONG: Honolulu Hotties

When Jack woke up, the room looked so funny. The sun was shining into part of it, and yet all the rest was quite dark and shady. So Jack jumped up and dressed himself and when he stepped outside, he saw an amazing sight. A gigantic beanstalk, reaching far into the clouds, had grown overnight.

"The beans must have really been magic," Jack thought happily. Being very curious, the boy climbed the plant and once, and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till at last he reached the sky. And when he got there he found himself in a strange country. It looked to be quite a barren desert. Not a tree, shrub, house, or living creature was to be seen, but there was a long broad road, going as straight as a dart. So he walked along and he walked along and he walked along till he came to an enormous castle. "I wonder who lives there," thought Jack, “and I wonder if I might beg something to eat.”

As he stood in front of the huge gate, his curiosity increased. He knocked several times on the gigantic door, but no one came to open it. Jack noticed that the door wasn't locked. With great effort, he was able to push it until it creaked open.

SONG: Katy

"What are you doing here?" a thundering voice asked. The biggest woman he had ever seen was scowling at him - a frightful giantess, with one great eye in the middle of her forehead. As soon as Jack saw her he thought he might turn and run away, but as she was already so close to him, he thought the better of it.

"Good morning, mum," says Jack, quite polite-like. "Could you be so kind as to give me some breakfast?" For he hadn't had anything to eat the night before, of course, and he was as hungry as could be.

"It's breakfast you want, is it?" says the great big tall woman. "It's breakfast you'll be if you don't move off from here. My man is an ogre and there's nothing he likes better than boys broiled on toast. You'd better be moving on or he'll be coming."

"Oh! please, mum, do give me something to eat, mum. I've had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, really and truly, mum," says Jack. "I may as well be broiled as die of hunger."

Well, the ogre's wife was not half so bad after all. So she took Jack into the kitchen, and gave him a hunk of bread and cheese and a jug of milk. But Jack hadn't half finished these when thump! thump! thump! the whole house began to tremble with the noise of someone coming.

"Goodness gracious me! It's my old man," said the ogre's wife. "What on earth shall I do? Come along quick and jump in here." And she bundled Jack into the oven just as the ogre came in.

SONG: Matt Vander Sluis

He was a big one, to be sure. At his belt he had three calves strung up by the heels, and he unhooked them and threw them down on the table and said, "Here, wife, broil me a couple of these for breakfast. Ah! what's this I smell?

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."

SONG: Evan

"Nonsense, dear," said his wife. "You' re dreaming. Or perhaps you smell the scraps of that little boy you liked so much for yesterday's dinner. Here, you go and have a wash and tidy up, and by the time you come back your breakfast'll be ready for you."

So off the ogre went, and Jack was just going to jump out of the oven and run away when the woman told him to stay put. "Wait till he's asleep," says she; "he always has a doze after breakfast."

Well, the ogre had his breakfast, and after that he went to a big chest and took out a couple of bags of gold, and down he sat to count his coins until at last his head began to nod and he began to snore till the whole house shook again.

Then Jack crept out on tiptoe from his oven, and as he was passing the ogre, he took one of the bags of gold under his arm, and off he ran till he came to the beanstalk. Jack then threw down the bag of gold, which, of course, fell into his mother's garden, and then he climbed down and climbed down till at last he got home and told his mother and showed her the gold and said, "Well, mother, wasn't I right about the beans? They are really magical, you see."

In the days that followed, the widow's humble house was made into a comfortable home. The gold pieces were spent to buy a lot of things Jack and his mother never had before. Mother and son were very happy. But as time went by, so did the money. When the last gold piece had been spent, Jack decided to go back to the castle above the clouds.
SONG: Paul Anderson

So one fine morning he rose up early, and got onto the beanstalk, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till at last he came out onto the road again and up to the great tall castle he had been to before. And there was the great tall woman a-standing on the doorstep.

"Good morning, mum," says Jack, as bold as brass, "could you be so good as to give me something to eat?"

"Go away, my boy," said the big tall woman, "or else my man will eat you up for breakfast. But aren't you the youngster who came here once before? Do you know, that very day my man missed one of his bags of gold."

"That's strange, mum," said Jack, "I dare say I could tell you something about that, but I'm so hungry I can't speak till I've had something to eat."

Well, the big tall woman was so curious that she took him in and gave him something to eat. But he had scarcely begun munching it as slowly as he could when thump! thump! they heard the giant's footstep, and his wife hid Jack away in the oven.

All happened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, with three oxen to be broiled for his breakfast. And again the ogre said: “Oh, what’s that I smell?

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."

"Nonsense, dear," said his wife, and she prepared an enormous breakfast for the ogre.

After he’d eaten, the ogre said, "Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs." So she brought it, and the ogre said, "Lay," and it laid an egg all of gold. And then the ogre began to nod his head, and soon he snore till the house shook.

Then Jack crept out of the oven on tiptoe and caught hold of the golden hen, and was off before you could say "Jack Robinson." But this time the hen gave a cackle which woke the ogre, and just as Jack got out of the house he heard him calling, "Wife, wife, what have you done with my golden hen?"

And the wife said, "Why, my dear?"

But that was all Jack heard, for he rushed off to the beanstalk and climbed down like a house on fire. And when he got home he showed his mother the wonderful hen, and said "Lay" to it; and it laid a golden egg every time he said "Lay."

Soon, Jack and his mother had become very wealthy. Their house was completely rebuilt into a luxurious home.

Jack and his mother had not forgotten their previous years of poverty and deprivation. So they chose to welcome any traveler who needed food or shelter. But wealth doesn't always bring happiness. Jack's mother suddenly fell ill, but not one of the many doctors who visited her could discover what her illness was. The woman was sad, ate less and less and showed no interest in life. She rarely smiled, and then only when Jack was near to her. Jack was desperate and didn't know what to do. All the hen's gold was not enough to make his mother well again. So he had another idea.

"What if I went back to the ogre's castle? Maybe there I could find the answer," he thought. He shivered with fear thinking about the giant's huge hands and mouth, but the hope of helping his mother encouraged him to face the danger again. One evening he gathered all his courage and climbed once more the giant beanstalk. This time he entered the castle through an open window. He sneaked in the darkness to the kitchen and hid inside a huge pot until the following day.

It was almost breakfast time when Jack heard thump! thump! thump! as before, and in came the ogre and his wife. The ogre cried out "I smell him, wife, I smell him!

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."

"Do you, my dearie?" says the ogre's wife. "Then, if it's that little rogue that stole your gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs, he's sure to have got into the oven." And they both rushed to the oven.

But Jack wasn't there, luckily, and the ogre's wife said, "There you are again with your fee-fi-fo-fum. Why, of course, it's the boy you caught last night that I've just broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years."

So the ogre sat down to the breakfast and ate it, but every now and then he would mutter, "Well, I could have sworn --" and he'd get up and search the larder and the cupboards and everything, only, luckily, he didn't think of the cooking pot.

After breakfast was over, the ogre called out, "Wife, wife, bring me my golden harp."

So she brought it and put it on the table before him. Then he said, "Sing!" and the golden harp sang most beautifully. And it went on singing till the ogre fell asleep, and commenced to snore like thunder.

SONG: Deb C., Heather, David

Then Jack lifted up the pot lid very quietly and got down like a mouse and crept on hands and knees till he came to the table, when up he crawled, caught hold of the golden harp and dashed with it towards the door.

But the harp called out quite loud, "Master! Master!" and the ogre woke up just in time to see Jack running off with his harp.

Jack ran as fast as he could, and the ogre came rushing after, and would soon have caught him, only Jack had a head start and dodged him a bit. When Jack got to the beanstalk, the ogre was not more than twenty yards away; and when the ogre came to the end of the road he saw Jack underneath climbing down for dear life. Well, the ogre didn't like trusting himself to such a ladder, and he stood and waited, so Jack got another head start.

But the harp cried out, "Master! Master!" and the ogre swung himself down onto the beanstalk, which shook with his weight. Down climbs Jack, and after him climbed the ogre.

By this time Jack had climbed down and climbed down and climbed down till he was very nearly home. So he called out, "Mother! Mother! bring me an ax, bring me an ax." And his mother came rushing out with the ax in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood stock still with fright, for there she saw the ogre with his legs just through the clouds.

But Jack jumped down and got hold of the ax and began chopping at the beanstalk. The ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver, so he stopped to see what was the matter. And when the ogre looked down, he saw Jack give a last chop to the beanstalk, which began to topple over.
SONG: Patrick Wehren

Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown, and the beanstalk came toppling after.

SONG: "The Giant's Wife's Song" - Marty

The magical sound of the harp cured his mother's sadness and she was once again happy and cheerful. The hen kept on laying golden eggs. And before too long Jack married a great princess, and they all lived happy ever after.

All songs and recordings for this show are copyright 2003 by their respective performers.
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