As James crawled into the giant peach, right before his unbelieving eyes stood a grasshopper, spider, ladybug, centipede, and an earthworm with warm greetings. Although not straight from the page of a book or a movie theater, this moment can be seen in South’s spring play James and The Giant Peach.
Roald Dahl’s widely-known novel and film tells the story of James, a young boy who gets stuck in a peach and meets the many insects inside. Together, they take a journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
This year, the original children’s play accommodates a broader spectrum of viewers as the timeless story appeals to people of all ages, Director Claire Drews said.
“I’m really excited for actors to get to have those characters come alive and for them to do a show that is so interactive with the younger audience,” Drews said.
When deciding what play South would be performing for spring, the directors like to think of their actor’s strengths, Drews explained. This year, James and The Giant Peach provides a fun message and helps students show off their skill sets as Drews said.
“We have so many comedic actors here at Glenbrook South,” Drews said. “I thought it would be a fun show to do and fun for our audiences as well.”
Rehearsals are a team effort because of all the preparation that goes into the play, Drews said.
“Ultimately, I’m there to shape the show, but it’s their show and I always want students to take ownership of what they’re bringing to the stage,” Drews said.
Junior Ellie Donahue, who plays the ladybug, explained that getting to know the dialogue and putting emotion into the lines is the most important thing. When it is time to practice for a performance, individual work is done alongside group practices, she said.
“I just repeat it again and again and I add in emotion as I get to know the monologue better,” Donahue said. “As I read [the script] through, I think ‘oh this might work’ or ‘I wanna try this next time I read it.’”
Junior Kai Ayush, who plays the titular role of James, compared realistic acting to acting with the acknowledgment of it being a children’s play.
“A children’s play is intended for children, so everything has to be emphasized,” Ayush said.
Similarly, Donahue also stated that in children’s plays, you have to act out bigger personalities to accommodate the characters.
During rehearsal time, cast dynamics grow stronger and stronger. Freshman Coco Schluchter stressed that in order to truly put on a great performance, you must know your fellow cast members.
“If you don’t know anyone and if you can’t connect with anyone, then the placings [are] formal and stiff, so you need to be able to have a community so that you can put on a great performance and have fun with it,” Schluchter said.
Donahue also explained that theater is all about community and creating connections with others.
“The more you dive into it and allow yourself to embody someone else, the more enjoyable the experience is going to be. It’s truly amazing to be someone else for even an hour,” Donahue said.