SALT LAKE CITY — I found myself feeling young at heart this evening surrounded by a sea of excited youth and their parents to be entertained by a children’s favorite James in the Giant Peach presented by the Youth Theatre at the U. For some, it may be easy to judge a production with the entire cast aged 18 years and younger as perhaps lacking professionalism. While every note or line wasn’t perfect, these youth put on a fabulous show with lots of enthusiasm, making it enjoyable to be a part of.
James and the Giant Peach is based off of the popular book by Roald Dahl, about a young orphan boy named James who escapes from his cruel aunts in a giant, magical peach. He enters a great adventure with his new friends, insects who were touched by the magic and find themselves giant as well. Together they fight off danger and travel to new and extraordinary places.
Director Hugh Hansen along with composer/music director Cathy Neff and choreographer Penelope Caywood put together a fun production that is sure to captivate a young audience. Hansen used song, dance and even shadow figures to tell this story in a creative manner. Scenic designer Daniel Simons did a great job with the sets, often using cast members to be part of the different scenes to portray everything from rainstorms to rainbows. Another aspect that added to this production was a live band which played along with the musical numbers.
Each cast member portrayed their characters very well. James (Dylan Reichelt) filled the shoes of this main role perfectly. He depicted James as a quick thinking and thoughtful little boy who is sure to save the day. Other prominent characters were the Old Green Grasshopper (Jacob Houser) and Miss Spider (Robin Young). Houser played the Grasshopper with such class and sophistication expected for this musical insect role. He also did a great job as the narrator, making sure to speak clearly and guiding the audience through the story. Young was cute and charming as the spider. Being an amateur youth group the cast sometimes lacked diction and enunciation both in speaking and especially singing parts. There were times when some lines were a lost. However, I see a great future for these performers.
Overall, this was an entertaining production impressively put on by local youth. I would suggest this musical for a younger audience as well as those who would like to relive their childhood for a few hours.
James and the Giant Peach plays Friday, March 12th, at 7:00 PM and Saturday, March 13th at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Performances take place at Kingsbury Hall with free parking available at the Rice Eccles Stadium parking lot (shuttle provided). Tickets are $5-10 and can be purchased by phone, (801) 581-7100, or online at KingsburyHall.org.
Questions for our Readers:
- What did you think of the show?
- Do you know of any upcoming Childrens Theatre events?