Sept. 08--The Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild is prepared to take audience members on a magical journey when "James and the Giant Peach" opens at The Grand Theatre on Friday.
Based off Roald Dahl's book and the popular children's movie, the show is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.
"This is a fantastic and fun story," director Nicole Hoeppner said. "It's a classic kids story, but I think people will find it's different from the movie version. There's things in the film that aren't in the play and vice versa."
The play starts out with a young boy, James, who is very lonely and sad after the death of his parents. He is sent to live with a mean and nasty aunt, which doesn't help his feeling of loneliness.
But then James -- who is played by 13-year-old Max Sperry -- receives some magical things from a man, and when James spills these things onto a nearby peach tree it causes a giant peach to grow. The peach causes quite a spectacle in town and eventually James decides to wander inside the peach where he discovers an enchanting world. The play follows James as he befriends the inhabitants of the peach and the adventures he has while on the inside.
"The play is directed at kids, but there's enough things for adults as well just as all good kids shows do," Hoeppner said. "There's a lot of humor and a lot of funny moments. It's a playful and magical story that's family-friendly and suitable for people of all ages."
The cast is made up of mostly children aged 8 to 15. In fact, the only two adults in the play are James' two aunts, who are each acting in their first show. Hoeppner said they auditioned because their children were in the play, but ended up being two of the funniest characters in the show.
Otherwise, Hoeppner said the cast is made up of about 50 percent of kids with acting experience and the other half appearing in their first show.
Sperry, who is cast as the lead, is described by the director as an "incredibly talented" actor who has grown tremendously during the month or so of rehearsals.
"The cast is amazing," Hoeppner said. "The kids have truly astounded me. They are taking direction so much better and have shown so much growth. The show is really blossoming and it's been a fun process to be a part of."
"James and the Giant Peach" is the first show Hoeppner is directing with the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild. She has directed at Mabel Tainter Theatre in Menomonie and has acted and worked with the theatre guild for seven years.
She has enjoyed the experience so far and is excited for the show to open on Friday. "James and the Giant Peach" will show at The Grand Theatre in Eau Claire both this weekend and next, with the last showing on Sept. 22. Hoeppner insists the show is one worth seeing.
"It really is a fun show," Hoeppner said. "We have been rehearsing for over four weeks and there's still parts I laugh at every time just because they're so great. It's a fantastic show and the kids have done a wonderful job."
Syrstad can be reached at 715-833-9206 or email@example.com.
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