Monday, June 18, 2012

James and the Giant Peach thoughts. =)

James and the Giant Peach:

My Fathers Day involved a special trip to the Carmel Forest Outdoor Theater for the last performance of “James and the Giant Peach”, featuring several friends in key roles and technical support. Sadly, I wasn’t likely to have a chance to see the show throughout most of the run but then a friend offered me and my family a few “comp” tickets that I was only too happy to take advantage of. I love live performances and I’ve never actually gone to this theater before, despite the prestige attributed to the venue. Frankly, it’s a long drive in an area of the county I’m just not familiar with. And when I weigh the cost of a show with my own tendency toward agoraphobia, the agoraphobia usually wins. But the offer for tickets was too good and I wanted to do something a little special with my family, so off we went!

So first off, this isn’t a review… these are my personal thoughts after watching the show and it was the last show of the run. I want to thank Koly McBride for her ticket offer and it was really nice to see her in a singing role. As artistic director for the Paper Wing Theatre, she’s brought a number of musicals to the theater in recent years and helped me to discover that I really enjoyed working on my own voice. Despite this, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to hear or watch her perform in musical numbers. There’s always a special kick to watching people you respect do their “thing” in front of an audience! Koly and her son, Dustin, were both featured performers in the roles of Ladybird and Glow Worm.

So let’s get to James and The Giant Peach! Live, beneath the burning sun of Father’s Day, at the Outdoor Carmel Theater.

Based on the Raoul Dahl story of the same name, “James and the Giant Peach” is a fun little musical geared toward children and told from the point of view of the titular character. It’s the story of a young orphan forced to live with his two unloving Aunts. After meeting a mysterious traveler who offers James a bag of magic “seeds”, the boy drops those seeds near the peach tree growing in the front yard of his aunts’ home. A giant peach grows and James meets a number of human sized insects who also had a bite-full of the “magnificent things”. The group then breaks the peach free of its stem and rides the fruit across the ocean in an amazing adventure.

The setting, make-up, and costume designs are amazing, colorful, and often struck me with similarities to Tim Burton or “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, an “other-worldly” appearance that put the audience in the right frame for the story. The performances are all well done, but my personal favorite performance came from the young Cody Moore as the Caterpillar. The eye is drawn to his movements with the multiple arms and the gravel tone of his characters voice so perfectly suits the role. Every actor on the stage deserves to take a bow, as everyone stepped up at various points to crack the audience and bring some laughs. The kids in the ensemble also really stepped up, controlling seagulls and fish and sharks throughout the show and helping to create the right atmosphere for the audience to enjoy the show. It was exhausting to watch the show beneath the sun, and those children were incredibly brave and should be proud of the product they helped to create. I hope they all enjoyed their experiences and that audiences will continue to watch them grow into larger roles in time.

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