Just Peachy

ECCT brings musical version of James and the Giant Peach to The State

Haley Wright, photos by Andrea Paulseth

NOT PICTURED: THE GIANT PEACH. The Eau Claire Children’s Theatre will stage a full Broadway musical version of Roald Dahl’s classic novel James and the Giant Peach in February.
NOT PICTURED: THE GIANT PEACH. The Eau Claire Children’s Theatre will stage a full Broadway musical version of Roald Dahl’s classic novel James and the Giant Peach in February.

James and the Giant Peach, a musical version of the beloved children’s novel adapted for the stage, is being presented by the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre Feb. 3-5 at the State Theatre in Eau Claire. According to director Wayne Marek, the show in its musical form is brand-new to local theater and full of catchy tunes. “The show is the Broadway musical version, based on the classic Roald Dahl novel,” he says. “It follows James’ escape from his mean Aunts Spiker and Sponge and the adventures he has with the insects in the peach on the high seas. The rights for this show were released in November 2016, so we will be literally one of the first, if not the very first, community theater to do the full Broadway production. The music for the show is excellent – very jazzy with catchy melodies. It’s probably one of the best musical adaptations we’ve produced.”

“We will be literally one of the first, if not the very first, community theater to do the full Broadway production.” – director Wayne Marek on the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre production of James and the Giant Peach

The show is visually engaging as well, featuring several special, eye-catching pieces. “The centerpiece of the show is obviously the large peach where most of the action takes place,” Marek says. “That has been a unique challenge for the design team. The outlandish costumes for the two aunts and the human-size insects have been a lot of fun for the costumers. There are also puppet insects that have been another design challenge for the crew.”

Laura Cunningham, the actress who plays Ladybug, says this show is unique among other productions for the sense of nostalgia it invokes and the emotions captured by the music, which covers a wide range of genres. “The adaptation of the book to stage is really nostalgic,” she says. “I remember reading the book as a kid and thought it was exciting and weird and different. It was a story that I always remembered. Now my 5-year-old niece has been reading the book with her dad, so it’s nice to see that the same story, whether in book or stage form, can be appreciated by all ages.”

Cunningham adds that the music in the show ranges “swing to samba to jazz and ballads” and will engage theatergoers with a wide variety of interests. “(The songs) are campy and meaningful and difficult to sing, yet some of the most amazing music I’ve ever worked on in a show,” she says. “Each song perfectly matches the mood or emotion being felt.” 

Eau Claire Children’s Theatre presents James and the Giant Peach • 7:30pm Friday, Feb. 3; 10am and 1:30pm Saturday, Feb. 4; 1:30pm Sunday, Feb. 5 • The State Theatre, 316 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire • $8 youth, $12 student, $18 seniors, $22 adult • (715) 832-2787 • ecct.org

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