James and the Giant Peach is a play with special meaning for Leah Mundy.
“It’s a full circle moment for me,” said the Lakeside High School senior who will play Spider in the upcoming Musical Theatre Workshops production of the Roald Dahl story. “My first year with MTW and the first show I did with MTW was James and the Giant Peach. I was brand new. I had never really done a show before, and I was in the ensemble. And this is the last show before I graduate from high school, and I’m in the lead role.”
Dahl wrote the book in 1961 about an imprisoned boy, a giant peach, his insect friends and an incredible journey.
The play is “crazy, wacky and kooky,” according to Mundy, and that’s what she loves about it.
“The acting, the dancing and the music — everything is just like that. Those are my favorite types of roles to play and my favorite type of shows to watch,” she said.
Mundy isn’t the only actor who was impressed with the previous Musical Theatre Workshops’ production in 2019.
Luke Romagnoli was another newcomer to the company that year. The Greenbrier Middle School sixth grader doesn’t remember a lot of details, but the song Shake It Up impressed him.
“All these crazy figures just crawling on stage — it was really creepy but really cool. I’d never seen a stage production that kooky and weird — but in a fun way — before,” he said. “That was one thing that stood out to me.”
And he knew he had to continue to be part of the Musical Theatre Workshops after watching that performance.
“I was like ‘Wow, this is really cool If these are the shows I’m going to be in, I really like this,” he said.
Kresley Thames, who plays Grasshopper, also saw the Musical Theatre Workshops 2019 production
“I’m pretty familiar with it. The last time they did it my brother played the part I’m doing now,” said the 16-year-old homeschooler.
That complicated the role a little for him, but he’s tried to make the role his own by watching his brother’s performance and coming up with something totally different.
At the heart of the story, said director Mickey Lubeck, is a family. In any of her productions, she likes to focus on family and the importance of it.
“No matter the adversity you go through, family — whether it’s your core family or the family you become part of – in the end, family heals,” she said.
Thames has picked up on the family theme in the way he portrays his character.
“Grasshopper is like the leader of the pack. He keeps everything under control, and he’s a father figure to James. I like to play that,” he said.
James and the Giant Peach will be performed at 7 p.m. April 20 and 21 and at 2 p.m. April 22 at Augusta Preparatory Day School’s Hull Fine Arts Center.
The following weekend, the school’s younger actors will perform in another one of Roald Dahl’s stories.
Lubeck said she didn’t set out with the intention of doing two plays based on books by the same author. It just happened that way.
Willy Wonka Jr. will be performed at 7 p.m. April 27-28 and at 2 and 7 p.m. April 29 at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center. There two different casts for the show with different actors playing the roles of Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket depending on the cast.
Tickets are available at the MTW website or at the door.
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org