Sometimes big adventures get a little sticky. But that’s what you should expect from an international voyage inside an exceptionally large piece of fruit. Severna Park Middle School will present “James and the Giant Peach Jr.,” the latest musical adaptation based on the renowned Roald Dahl children’s story, during four family-friendly performances from March 29-31.
Follow James and his crew of invertebrate characters as they cross oceans, soar in the sky, and encounter a series of sweet encounters and outrageous pit-falls. The adventure begins in the south of England, but you won’t believe where it ends.
Sixty-three students are cast, with nearly 20 tech crew members, and dozens of volunteers and faculty members making the ambitious production possible. Andrew Kessler stars as James, Parijita Bastola as the Earthworm, Olivia Blake as the Ladybug, Joseph Schroeder as the Centipede, Annabelle Wellschlager as the Spider, Lainey Ordakowski as Sponge, Paige Davis as Spiker, and Gianna Dicks as Ladahlord.
“It’s a very family friendly show,” said Gianna, who believes that her voice, acting and dance lessons have prepared her well for her part. “I like that my character is kooky and spooky.”
Her fellow actors are also embracing their roles.
“I like that I’m a father figure to James, just very optimistic,” said eighth-grader Jack Miller, who plays the Grasshopper. Jack’s experience includes musical workshops at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore.
Lainey said, “It definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone. I have to yell at people and push people out of my way, which is weird for me. [To prepare], I took other people’s flaws and things I didn’t like seeing in people.”
Olivia has one of the more cheerful roles as Ladybug. “I usually play younger characters, but I get to be mature and play the mother figure to James.”
More than 100 singers and dancers auditioned for the musical in early January, with the cast diving immediately into a grueling schedule of more than 40 rehearsals. A creative set design project also began later that month.
SPMS’s Spartan Lyrical Society, the nonprofit organization that supports vocal, drama, and musical theater at the middle school, presents a unique twist on the Dahl story with a classic, vaudevillian circus theme integrated into the set design and costumes.
The show is directed by theater veteran Atticus Boidy, with musical direction from SPMS chorus teacher Sara Metcalfe. Morgan Gingerich is the choreographer, and Kathy Falk is the producer.
“James and the Giant Peach Jr.” is fun for all ages. Four shows are offered — Friday, March 29, at 7:00pm; Saturday, March 30, at 2:00pm and 7:00pm; and Sunday, March 31, at 2:00pm. Tickets go on sale to the public on March 15 for $10. Group sales are offered. Purchases can be made at www.spmssings.org or at the door (subject to availability). Last year’s performances were sold out.
Severna Park Middle School is located at 450 Jumpers Hole Road.
“Overall, it’s a happy show, but some parts of it will make you cry,” said Andrew, an eighth-grader.