by Sheryl Wall
On stage now at the Enchanted Playhouse in Visalia is James and the Giant Peach. It is based on a book by Roald Dahl written in 1961.
James Henry Trotte is a young boy who lost his parents because of a Rhinoceros eating them at the zoo. James is forced to stay with his two evil aunts, Spiker and Sponge, who live up on a hill. His Aunts never let James play with other children and always had him busy with chores. The story reminds me a little of Cinderella and the stepsisters. An old man who seems to know everything about James gives him a bag full of magic glowing green crocodile tongues but he drops it and it makes a dead peach tree grow a giant peach. James crawls inside the peach and meets several giant bugs; an old grasshopper, spider, ladybug, centipede, glowworm, and an earthworm. James has no friends so befriends these bugs and they go on an adventure together into the ocean to New York City.
The whole cast did a great job and the boy who played James, though young, was excellent. He brought the whole story to life. The costumes for the bugs were fun but not scary at all for small children to enjoy. There were several scene changes where they incorporated the story through a speaker rather then have a lot of breaks in the story. One of my favorite scenes was watching how the peach kept growing bigger and bigger while the aunts and James looked on. They did a fun effect for the peach changing. It was simple yet affective.
The Enchanted Playhouse does an excellent job presenting a family friendly environment and chooses a lot of fun plays to perform. At the end, all the cast sits up front and the children can all go up to meet them and get autographs. Even my reserved three year old had to meet the Ladybug and even sat in her lap. James and the Giant Peach is a fun play and it is a good place to introduce small children to the joys of theatre. My daughter has decided that she wants to own her own Giant Peach someday.
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