James and the Giant Peach -Stages Theatre Review -September 2014
The timing was perfect. Both of my elementary-aged kids (9 & 7) had just finished reading Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book James and the Giant Peach when opportunity knocked to see the story come to life at Stages Theatre Company. Having enjoyed the book, they were curious about how it would compare with a stage adaptation. You might say they were a smidge skeptical that Stages had somehow procured a colossal peach for the show…
Turns out – spoiler! – there is no actual fruit in the show that swells to mammoth proportions. There are, however, many cool tricks employed to convince the audience that they are, in fact, witnessing the growth of this miraculous peach and the bizarre ways in which it transforms the life of a young boy named Henry James Trotter. (I’m not gonna spoil those!)
If you aren’t familiar with the story, it centers around orphaned James, who, at the beginning of the tale, is living a miserable existence with his two aunts in England. While the book paints his life as tortured, the Stages version manages to remain sympathetic to James while making us all laugh out loud at the uproariously vain antics of Aunts Sponge and Spiker. The aunts drew the most laughs from my kids. Their favorite characters, however, were the band of musical insects who were, alongside the peach, bewitched by a satchel of magical crocodile tongues. James and the insects go on to have an adventure that will forever alter the course of the young boy’s life.
I don’t want to give any more of the story away. So here’s what I recommend:
- Read the book by Roald Dahl should you decide to attend the show (it’s a pretty quick read for elementary-aged kids; youngsters should be a pretty patient 5 years to have the story read aloud) OR
- watch the movie (Walt Disney Pictures) AND THEN
- come see the show! It’s very important to note that a typical Stages Theatre performance lasts about one hour. It’s a great length of time for families bringing along younger children, especially those who might not be old enough to follow the story. The preschoolers I’ve observed have been well entertained by the upbeat, musical performances.