Encore Musicals will be presenting Roald’s Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” April 11-14 at the RiverPark Center.
With a musical score from the Oscar, Grammy Tony and Golden Globe award-winning songwriting team of Pasek and Paul, who are known for “Dear Evan Hansen,” “La La Land,” and “The Greatest Showman,” Director David Roberson said this is a musical for all ages.
“Usually ‘James and the Giant Peach’ is thought of as a children’s book, but with all of Dahl’s work, there is always a dark side and a moral and this musical really reaches out to all ages,” Roberson said.
The story begins with the audience learning that James Henry Trotter has lost his parents in an accident with a rhinoceros and only has two surviving — and horrible — aunts, Spiker and Sponge.
Dylan McCollam plays James, which is a twist on the male role. Since the role is a younger boy, Roberson felt they could use a female lead to play the male role.
“The music is difficult and we did not find a boy who did it as well as Dylan,” Roberson said, adding that in fact, McCollam was the only child in the musical.
The aunts are cruel to James and use him for free labor, making him work from morning to night. They make him cut down a peach tree in their front yard and from there, the magic begins. After accidentally dropping a magic potion by the tree, a giant peach grows and the aunts want to use the peach to make money.
James enters the peach and meets a group of human-sized insects that take James on a journey –all while traveling inside the peach.
The insects and James must learn to live and work as a family, something that speaks to theatergoers.
Cast members include Thad Mayhugh as Ladahlord, Lynn Roberson as Spiker, Lore North as Sponge, Susan Dant as LadyBug, Aryanne Brailsford as Spider, Alisa Hamilton as Earthworm, Preston Middleton as Grasshopper, and Turner Vaughn as Centipede.
Ensemble members are Emma North, Dorothy Sibrel, Isabelle Ekbundit, Kaylen Rhodes, Molly Tucker, Alex Hamilton, and Kevin Brown.
Roberson said that he is excited for the great cast of the musical and that many are long-standing actors within Encore.
“We came out of Back Alley Musicals and just wanted to continue to have a place to do musicals,” Roberson said. “We have some newer folks — it’s just a really fun cast that will do a great job.”
Performances are April 11-13 at 7 p.m. and April 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the RiverPark Center website.