By Jessica Kennedy.
Argyle Theatre in Babylon Village has a sweet treat in store for its younger audiences! Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach is starting an extended run from March 23rd- June 23rd to close out its inaugural season under the ownership of father and son team, Mark and Dylan Perlman. Directed by Kate Keating and sponsored by Good Samaritan Hospital, this whimsical show is sure to captivate audience members young and old alike!
After the tragic loss of his parents, poor little James Henry Trotter (Bradley Levine) finds himself at the mercy of his two awful aunties, Spiker and Sponge ( the deliciously cruel Anne Marie Finnie and Vicki Oceguera). They treat little James horribly, forcing him to sleep in a dirt cellar and perform menial tasks for them. Although he is unhappy, James is reminded often that they are the only family he has left. James hopes his luck has changed when he meets a mysterious man (Ryan Cavanagh) who offers him a potion of “crocodile tongues,” to help him make all his wishes come true, but ill-fated James trips and spills the tongues at the foot of his aunts’ peach tree. From there a giant peach grows; however, the spectacular fruit is not the only thing that is affected by the mysterious potion! The results of his blunder plunge James into a wild and fantastic journey- an odyssey which teaches him the the true meaning of family is more than he ever imagined!
The cast and production staff do a wonderful job of keeping this show fun and light! Despite having some seemingly darker elements to the plot, they are navigated beautifully by Director Kate Keating, who, in an interview, stated she felt it important to make the show accessible to kids of all ages. While some of us may think of Tim Burton’s 1996 film version when we hear the show title, the movie and the play are quite different. Costume Designer James Terrell depicts all the characters, from cruel aunts to curmudgeonly centipedes, vividly and vibrantly, but not at all in a fashion which would have any of the little viewers squirming in their seats. Ladahlord, our narrator and mysterious old man, is played charismatically by Ryan Cavanagh. The insects are kind and warm-hearted, and even the miserly centipede (the endearing David DiMarzo) ends the show as part of a group hug! Earthworm (the winsome David Reyes) and Grasshopper (the charming Evan Schultz) are genial, while Ladybug (the poised Jessica Mae Murphy) and Spider (the lively Maria Cento) are pleasant and maternal. My own five year old even found the fiendish duo, Spiker and Sponge, to be more entertaining than alarming.
In addition to a robust children’s theater program, the Argyle Theatre also offers a Summer Intensive for children 8-17 who are interested in learning about, and participating in, local musical theater. There are two sessions available, and they are 3 weeks each; call the Box Office for details!