Community Theatre League to present ‘James and the Giant Peach’

PHOTO PROVIDED James, played by Kendell Eichenlaub, performs a scene with Makenzie Shimko who will play Lahdalord.

WILLIAMSPORT– The Community Theatre League is proud to present Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” – a musical adventure for children and families – in the Theatre for Young Audiences series on Jan. 11, 12, and 13.

“James and the Giant Peach” is based on the 1961 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.

Best known for his later works, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the story of the giant peach was his first book written specifically for children.

The story is that of an orphaned young boy, James Henry Trotter, who is sent to live with his horrid aunts – Spiker and Sponge. Friendless, James imagines that the insects who live on his window ledge are his friends, and wishing that he could escape to a better place… then a bit of magic happens, bringing a dead tree to life, growing the largest peach ever.

When it breaks free, James is off on an adventure, finding his insect friends are magically anthropomorphized into human-sized, speaking friends – Grasshopper, Ladybug, Centipede, Spider, and Earthworm! Together, they float along the ocean inside the magic peach in search of a new place they can live.

PHOTO PROVIDED Pictured are James and his insect friends from the popular children’s book “James and the Giant Peach,” which will be performed at the Community Theatre League this weekend. From left, Earthworm, performed by Kahlie DeHotman; Grasshopper, performed by Jake Hare; James, performed by Kendall Eichenlaub; Ladybug, performed by Megan Fisher; Spider, performed by Reagan Luna and Centipede, performed by Seth Confer.

In 1996, the novel was turned into a Disney movie, then premiered as a musical in 2010, with a book by Timothy Allen McDonald, and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known best for the musicals “Dear Evan Hansen” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” which just ran for three weekends at CTL in December.

“James and the Giant Peach” is directed by Lindsey Eischeid and music directed by Margaret “Mo” Ortbal.

Eischeid is a first-time director for the Community Theatre League, after previous experience directing for high schools in the area.

“I immediately felt like a part of the CTL family,” she said, “there is such a positivity throughout the whole theatre, which is really refreshing. ‘James’ is such a fun, magical show. The music is awesome, and the dance numbers are full of energy. There are so many ‘out there’ moments in the show, but because of the magical aspects of it, it makes sense.”

Kim Fulmer, who lives in Sunbury, is happy to be acting at CTL again. She plays Sponge, one of James’ aunts.

“We are bringing a children’s book to life, so we are essentially bringing cartoonish characters to life. Everything we do on stage is exaggerated and some of it is very silly, and a lot of fun,” Fulmer said. “I love that Sponge is ‘evil’ but not so smart. I appreciate that some of it was out of my comfort zone, and required a lot of confidence on my part.”

The Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) series is new at CTL this season.

“In some ways, this TYA show is a return to what the current Sprouts series started as,” CTL General Manager Philip Vonada says, “The Sprouts series was originally a way for adults to get their ‘sillies’ out, performing shows for children. Over the years, it morphed into a by-kids-for-kids program, which is great! We have had a few requests over the past few years for an adults-for-kids production, so we are thrilled to offer this TYA show. We have a lot of CTL ‘regulars’ involved in this show, and are also happy to welcome a handful of newcomers to our stage, including both of the directors. We are always happy to see new people involved!”

Eischeid is happy to see CTL offering programming for children and families.

“Theatre is such a wonderful way to portray stories and life messages,” she says, “Theatre combines all forms of art visual, musical, and dance to tell these stories… It is important for young audiences to experience theatre so they can see all of these expressive art forms working together. Especially in today’s world full of technology, it’s important for audience members of all ages to be able to experience something technology-free.”

Fulmer adds on, “Live theatre is a unique experience for young audiences. They get to watch characters they may already know and love come to life. They could already love music, dancing, and play acting, but not realize that it can all come together on stage. Every time I see a show as an adult, I am lost in the magic of it, and I think young audiences deserve that magic on a lvel that is catered to them.”

The cast includes Kendall Eichenlaub as James, with Seth Confer, Kahlie DeHotman, Megan Fisher, Adam Fox, Kim Fulmer, Jake Hare, Regan Luna, Emily Shaffer, Makenzie Shimko, Vicki Shimko, Tyler Walk and Sloan Wood.

The production team includes Eischeid and Ortbal, with Abby Palaski, Seth Sponhouse, Philip J. Vonada and Brianne Tupper.

This production is sponsored by C&I Boiler Repair, Inc., and Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.ctlshows.com, in person at the Box Office, or by phone at 570-327-1777.

Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” is presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International, New York.

The Community Theatre League, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is Williamsport’s premiere community theatre. Founded in 1976 with the vision of creating a true community-driven organization focused on making, promoting and supporting the performing arts, The Community Theatre League has presented over 200 Mainstage productions. CTL regularly produces at least 10 plays or musicals throughout the year, as well as special concert events and the Sprouts children’s series. CTL holds a variety of summer camps for students of all ages, organizes the annual Ray of Light Awards for high school music theatre and drama programs, and is the home of the Community Academy of Stage and Theatre.

IFYOUGO

– What: James and the Giant Peach

– When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11

and 12; 2 p.m. Jan. 13

– Where: The Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., Williamsport

– Tickets: $13 adults; $10 students and youth; $40 Family 4-Pack

– Info: 570-327-1777

www.ctlshows.com