The beloved children’s classic James and the Giant Peach, written by Roald Dahl, comes to the stage at Young People’s Theatre over the holiday season. The story is one of adventure and friendship, with themes of loss, bravery, and family playing huge roles in the journey young James Henry Trotter (Alessandro Costantini) takes inside a gigantic peach.
After a rogue rhinoceros kills his parents, James is forced to live with his wicked aunts, Spiker (Nicole Robert) and Sponge (Karen Wood), a pair of unpleasant ladies whose only goal in life is to make money, regardless of how. However, James is soon whisked away on an adventure inside a giant, runaway peach with a cast of memorable characters.
James is joined by Ladybug (Lana Carillo), Spider (Saccha Dennis), Earthworm (Jacob MacInnis), Centipede (Dale Miller) and Grasshopper (Stewart Adam McKensy). This colourful and unique collection of insects becomes a new family for James, forming the central theme of the show. From the wicked aunts to the motherly Ladybug, everyone in the cast is superb. Led by Alessandro Costantini as a wide-eyed, brave James, the characters from Dahl’s book truly come alive through each actor’s performance. An array of strong singing voices is showcased throughout, with a collection of clever and memorable songs from songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
It is interesting to see a standard musical format work well in a children’s production. The relatively young audience is, for the most part, completely engaged in the musical numbers and the ongoing story. The clever set design from Yannik Larivée, featuring a giant peach-shaped border and the use of lights and shadows on the back curtain, also helps bring the story to life. As the peach, depicted through the curtain at the back of the stage, grows to its mammoth size in the first half of the show, audible whispers of wonder from the young audience pinpoint the magic of the moment. While the show is intended for a young audience, fans of Roald Dahl and musical theatre in general will certainly enjoy James and the Giant Peach.
James and the Giant Peach, directed by Sue Miner, runs at Young People’s Theatre until January 4th 2015. Tickets range from $25 - $37 depending on the seat. The show is intended for children aged six and up. Visit www.youngpeople’stheatre.ca for more details.