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Seventh-grader looks forward to performing for other kids

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kim Stepinsky | for the Tribune-Review
(from left), Savannah Simeone, 14, of Murrysville, 'Kitchen Girl', Erin Bliss, 12, of Murrysville, 'Housekeeper', Tate McElhaney, (sitting), 12, of Latrobe, 'Jack', and Elijah Koch, 12, of Murrysville, 'Cook', sing 'Wiggle Waggle', during a rehearsal held at the American Legion in Delmont on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013, of the upcoming children's production of 'Fe Fi Fo Fum', under direction of Bradford Sadler.
Kim Stepinsky | for the Tribune-Review
(front, from left), Elijah Koch, 12, of Murrysville, 'Cook', Erin Bliss, 12, of Murrysville, 'Housekeeper', Sydney Granack, 9, of Harrison City, 'Village Woman 1', (back, from left), Savannah Simeone, 14, of Murrysville, 'Kitchen Girl', Emmalee Lamolinara, 15, of Latrobe, 'Miss Priss', and Colton Edwards, 12, of Murrysville, 'Bean Seller', sing 'Run Jack Run', during a rehearsal held at the American Legion in Delmont on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013, of the upcoming children's production of 'Fe Fi Fo Fum', under direction of Bradford Sadler.

Tate McElhaney of Latrobe can now add “beanstalk climbing” to his growing list of acting skills.

In his latest stage role, he's also showing young audiences that size doesn't matter when it comes to being a hero.

McElhaney, a seventh-grade student at Latrobe Junior High School, portrays Jack, the young lad who overpowers a villain of gigantic proportions in the Apple Hill Playhouse children's production of “Fee Fi Fo Fum.” The musical adaptation by Vera Morris and Bill Francoeur pits Jack against the evil giant, Gogmagog, played by Trent Edwards.

The plot is based on a favorite British folk tale from the 1800s about a boy who sells the family cow to a man with some “magic beans” that eventually sprout into a towering beanstalk. Jack decides to climb the plant and, at the very top, finds Gogmagog's home, and the giant himself. Their encounter is less than friendly, but as fairytales often do, the story has a happy ending.

McElhaney says it was an easy decision to audition for this summertime acting adventure at the Delmont community theater.

“What boy wouldn't want to play Jack, the heroic giant slayer?” he asks. “He's adventurous, brave, and, sometimes, his imagination gets him into some trouble.”

Bradford Sadler of Pittsburgh directs the children's show, which features a large cast of mostly teenagers with a few additional children and three adults.

“We have a very eclectic group,” he says. “I have been very happy and grateful to see that they have all been working together and getting along splendidly.”

Sadler says he appreciates the opportunity to work with the young actors in “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum.”

“I think that young audiences will enjoy this show because the script is very funny and very entertaining, and our performers are doing a wonderful job making it very accessible and fun for our audiences,” he says.

A score featuring lively tunes such as “Good Things Are Bound to Happen,” “Magic Beans” and “Run, Jack, Run,” in addition to a simple set that enables room for a lot of stage movement and opportunities for audience interaction also add to the fun of this production.

Sadler directed “The Glass Menagerie” last fall at the Theatre Factory in Trafford. In January, he will return to his teaching position at Ohio Wesleyan University.

McElhaney has been acting since age 7 and says he is enjoying portraying Jack in “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum,” adding, “I think the most fun part about this role will be watching the kids' reaction when we perform it for them.”

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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