Children of all ages are likely familiar with the books of Roald Dahl. From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Matilda, his unique and quirky characters have made their way into popular culture. Broadway has adapted many of his classics and now, James and the Giant Peach joins the lineup – with this summer’s FestivalSouth landing the regional premiere.
“We are thrilled to be able to present this wonderful musical to our community” said FestivalSouth Artistic Director Mike Lopinto. “It’s like Wicked meets Disney with incredible music and a timeless story that, much like Disney tales, might seem aimed at children, but functions on a completely different level for adults as well.”
A delightfully offbeat adaptation of the classic Dahl adventure, James and the Giant Peach is a singing, dancing and visual spectacular. Audiences will love the outlandish characters created by The Hub City Players, Hattiesburg’s professional theatre company, performing the Mississippi premiere of brand new material from one of Broadway’s hottest duos.
The tuneful score is by the Tony Award-nominated, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning team of Pasek and Paul (La La Land and Dear Even Hansen) with a quirky book by Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley).
The story follows James, who is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, where he discovers a magic potion that results in a tremendous peach – and launches a journey of enormous proportions. Suddenly, James finds himself in the center of the gigantic peach, among human-sized insects with equally oversized personalities, but after it falls from the tree and rolls into the ocean, the group faces hunger, sharks and plenty of disagreements.
Thanks to James' quick wit and creative thinking, the residents learn to live and work together as a family. The dangerous voyage is a success, but the adventure takes a whole new twist once they land on the Empire State Building.
The show features Brandon Hayes as Ladahlord, Lucy Sanguinetti as Spiker, Tammy Mansfield as Sponge, Austin Querns as Grasshopper, Jennie Bounds as Ladybug, Diamonte Venson as Earthworm, Joe Van Zandt as Centipede, Mind Pornsakulpaisal as Spider and after an extensive local audition of area children, Matthew Cook and Dawson Johns as James. The cast also features a children’s ensemble including Sydnee Durham, Ellie Shannon, Zoe Langley, Abby Daniell, Ella Claire Bennett, Teagan Sims, Trent Rasco, Luke Goodwin and Hank Rigsby.
The show’s creative team includes music direction and assistant stage direction by Jennifer Hart; choreography by Chris Word; scenic design and technical direction by Wes Hanson; costume, hair and makeup design by Tammy Mansfield; props and set painting by Lissa Ortego; props by Nancy Leader and lighting and direction by Mike Lopinto.
Sponsored by Forrest County, the show plays for three performances only – 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 2; 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, June 3. Advance tickets are highly recommended at www.festivalsouth.org.