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Once Upon My Imagination    by Jim LaChapelle order for
Once Upon My Imagination
by Jim LaChapelle
Order:  USA  Can
Self, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Listeners should close their eyes when listening to Jim LaChapelle's Once Upon My Imagination and picture the man on the cover acting out the five whimsical tales on this CD. Of course, with storytelling, the best part entails watching the bard work his craft - at times revealing that voice alone does not make a true storyteller. Though similar, a storyteller often differs from a narrator in the context of audio entertainment. The storyteller's voice must have an energy not necessarily required of a narrator, particularly during exposition. The storyteller should deliver a much more intense tone to virtually all parts of the tale, while the narrator focuses more on consistency, fluidity, and subdued rhythm. The rhythm, cadence, and attitude of the storyteller should exude emotion and create tone just as much as the words themselves.

LaChapelle certainly accomplishes this in his self-produced label, Once Upon My Imagination. His tales are entertaining, offering interesting lessons to ponder. In 'Seven Silly Fellows,' LaChapelle introduces listeners to seven goofy but good natured siblings who can't seem to retain their attention while taking a dip in the lake. His vocal jubilation and animation in this piece encourage smiles and set listeners in a great mood for the rest of the production. In many of his stories, LaChapelle repeats phrases, which though often silly, are sure to invoke amusement in child and adult alike. For example, in the second story, 'Tikki Tikki Tembo,' Chan must race through the town trying to tell everyone that his brother is drowning - but his brother's name is so long, it takes all his breath just to get it out.

His longest story, 'The Heartless Giant' is a twenty-minute tale of curious Prince Leo who accidentally releases a heartless giant who causes great harm. To correct his mistake, Leo must persevere through several adventures and sacrifice everything to save his kingdom. This story delivers the most powerful performance, as LaChapelle aptly executes young Prince Leo's struggles. The CD has two more stories that are just as much fun as those already mentioned. Once Upon My Imagination will leave listeners bemused and delighted with this storyteller's skill. For hundreds of years, high courts of royalty enjoyed many a minstrel's riveting performance. Though storytelling nowadays is considered youth-oriented, it can be exciting enough to enthrall any listener in this world of manufactured entertainment.

Note: The CD can be purchased at Jim the Storyteller's website.

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