Young actors rehearse for James and the Giant Peach at South Hill ParkBy Caroline Cook
March 30, 2012
A new adaptation of a Roald Dahl classic is coming to South Hill Park. Caroline Cook finds out more
From the moment James Henry Trotter’s parents get gobbled up by a rhinoceros, you know the story of James and the Giant Peach is going to be classic Roald Dahl.
The author revolutionised children’s books with his tales of the ghastly Twits and the wonderful world of Willy Wonka and now the story of one of his best-loved heroes is coming to the stage.
A cast of 60 children aged between six and 16 will be climbing aboard the giant peach for a fantastic show at South Hill Park this Easter.
With young actors from Ascot, Bracknell, Crowthorne, Earley, Finchampstead, Priestwood, Reading, Sandhurst and Wokingham taking to the stage, the show will present a medley of Berkshire acting talent set to a backdrop of Dahl’s imagination.
“We have assembled a superb creative team to deliver this wonderful classic story,” says Ron McAllister, chief executive of South Hill Park.
The show, directed by Adam Stafford, follows the story of James who lives a happy life at the English seaside until that fateful day when the rhino appears.
After his mum and dad are devoured, James, played by Charles Rothwell, goes to live with his two horrid aunts, Spiker and Sponge, who live on a desolate hill near the white cliffs of Dover.
For three years James has to live a life of misery on the hill until one day when he meets a man who gives him a sack of tiny glowing crocodile tongues and promises him that if he mixes them with water they will grant him everlasting happiness.
Unfortunately, or rather fortunately as the case may turn out, James drops the bag by a fruit tree in the garden and wakes to find a peach the size of a large house outside his window.
Most people might run away at the sight of such a monstrous fruit, or at best have a nibble, but James climbs inside and meets a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures.
With a centipede, a spider and a ladybird as part of his new band of pals, James sets about on the biggest adventure of his life rolling through villages, houses, and a famous chocolate factory, as he tries to get to New York.
“This is the first time Adam Stafford has directed our Easter production,” says Ron.
“But you may remember our wonderful co-production of Billy Elliott which Adam directed last summer, so we all expect great things from him. Auriole Wells returns as choreographer on this show too, and Tim Cumper weaves his magic on the music.
“No less than 60 young performers have been trained up for this production, creating three highly-disciplined teams, so get on your peach and come fly with us!”
With Dahl’s eccentric story delighting children and his touch of wit providing amusement for adults, the show is set to be a magical production for the whole family.
“Rehearsing with a very joyful and talented production team and company has been a pleasure, this will be a peach of a show,” says choreographer Auriole Wells.
With a stage brimming with colourful backdrops and larger-than-life characters, the Wild Community Theatre Company’s Easter production is set to be even bigger than James’s giant peach.
- James and the Giant Peach runs from Sunday, April 8, to Saturday, April 14. Tickets, £17 for adults, £16 concessions, £15 members and £46 family. Box office (01344) 484 123.