W&L cast adapts children’s play to college stage

University’s rendition of “James and the Giant Peach” has challenged actors to play to a younger audience

Elizabeth Underwood

Washington and Lee University’s Theatre, Dance and Film Department performed the live adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” in the Keller Theatre at Lenfest Hall last weekend.

Arthur Love ‘18 played James in the play that follows his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in a giant peach with some of his newfound friends: Miss Spider, Old-Green-Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug and Earthworm.

“It’s a really fun performance,” said Hailey Glick ’19, who played the Earthworm in the show. “I think a lot of people remember reading ‘James and the Giant Peach’ in school or seeing the movie and it’s a really nice retelling of that. The show is a really nice way to reconnect with your childhood.”

In addition to the weekend shows, “James and the Giant Peach” will give a showing on Monday and Tuesday afternoon for local elementary schools.

“One reason I wanted to do the show was to make sure that the kids in the area get exposed to theater,” play director Owen Collins said. “The play has really tight storytelling in a short run time of fifty minutes and it will be really great to see the reaction from the school matinees for local elementary schools.”

“James and the Giant Peach” was brought to life with the unique help of video projection and puppetry, including a huge octopus that reaches across the entire stage.

The students involved in the production also discussed their experiences with trying out children’s theater and adapting to the requirements of the genre.

“I’ve learned quite a bit about how different audiences require different stylized movements,” said Will McLearn ‘20, who played Old-Green-Grasshopper. “The younger audiences need big and interesting things to keep them interested.”

“I found that so far that this has been one of the most rewarding shows I’ve ever been in because it’s children theater and I feel like I have to give so much more energy to each performance,” said Melissa Yorio ‘19, who played Miss Spider.

W&L’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Film will next present “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” March 1-3 at 7:30 pm, March 3-4 at 2:00 pm, and March 6 at 7:30 pm in the Johnson Theatre at Lenfest Hall.