Just Peachy

Red Cedar Youth Stage presents Roald Dahl classic

Tracy Chipman, photos by Leah Dunbar

The young cast of James and the Giant Peach.
The young cast of James and the Giant Peach.

Kicking off its 53rd season, the oldest theater guild in western Wisconsin is presenting the 50-year-old Roald Dahl classic James and the Giant Peach. The Menomonie Theater Guild production is through their youth outreach branch, Red Cedar Youth Stage, which pairs seasoned performers (mentors) with elementary and middle school kids (protégés). This particular play centers on an orphan who enters a magical peach and has surreal adventures with several giant creepy-crawlies. Through a series of fantastical circumstances, the rag-tag band manages to cross the Atlantic. The production is directed by Blaine Halverson and Kiara Carlson, and the cast is comprised of six high school and college students and 14 pre-teen students. Mentor students will tackle the roles of the insect friends while the protégés practice versatility by playing multiple roles. “I’ve heard some directors take difficult ideas from these sort of magical children’s stories and say things like, ‘Well, it’s a kids’ show. They can use their imaginations!,’ ” Halverson said. “I’m all for kids using their imaginations, but when you’re doing a play for kids, based on such a beloved book, I think the creative team needs to be the ones to use our imaginations so we can transport the children in the audience.” Clearly this is more than just a kid’s production and what’s more, this wild adventure will all occur in the opulent velveti-ness of the Valley’s theater jewel – The Mabel Tainter. 

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