Audiences at the opening this past weekend of Young Stars Theatre’s whimsical production of “James and Giant Peach Jr. were treated to a toe-tapping, feel good time at the historic Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. The always delightful young actors were full of enthusiasm as they joyfully brought to life the vision of not only director, Liz Barone, and music director, Miranda Miller, but also that of the student producers as this is the yearly membership production where students assist on all aspects of the show.
From the wild and wonderful mind of Roald Dahl, “James and the Giant Peach” follows the adventures of orphaned James as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery while navigating conniving aunts, a runaway giant peach, a crew of insect friends and dangerous obstacles. Along with James we learn lessons about family, growth and the meaning of friendship, all told through wacky situations and playful songs.
As always with YST, the costumes are inventive and the set design is colorful and fanciful with a cast whose exuberance is infectious. Notable performances include the always delightful Riley Barone as James, with Jude Cory bringing an earnest sweetness to the role. There are two full casts, both of which give equally entertaining performances. AwenRose Miller and Elsa Rose Barbouth bring both maturity and mischievous qualities to the role of Ladahlord the narrator. Dune Galor-McPherson, Maddy Smith, Merit Honore and Joesphine Barbouth are collectively having a ball as the wickedly self-absorbed aunts Spider and Sponge. The young actors playing James’ newfound insect friends do a fantastic job especially in the touching number “Everywhere That You Are.”
The entire cast does a bang-up job of keeping things lively and fun for the whole family as with the super cute “There’s Money on That Tree” sung by all manner of story hungry reporters, keystone cops and the ever conniving Spider and Sponge. All in all a simply joy-filled, lighthearted and heartfelt show that is sure to warm your heart while tapping your toes and humming the tunes!
James and the Giant Peach Jr. runs through October 28 at the Fremont Centre Theatre. To support your local children’s theatre and be taken away to a magical world, get your tickets now at www.youngstarstheatre.org/tickets.