A magical adventure of enormous proportions! — Sierra Stages presents the musical ‘Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach’ at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City | TheUnion.com

A magical adventure of enormous proportions! — Sierra Stages presents the musical ‘Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach’ at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City

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In Roald Dahl's story a young orphan named James accidentally drops magic crystals near an old peach tree, and bizarre things start to happen.
Photo by David Wong


WHAT: “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, July 12 – Aug. 4.

WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, Nevada City

INFO: Visit www.SierraStages.org or call 530-346-3210 for tickets and more information

This summer, Sierra Stages is ready to present the musical “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” featuring words and music by the Tony and Academy Award-winning songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and book by Timothy Allen McDonald, based on the book “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl.

“Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” plays for four weekends only from July 12 through Aug. 4 at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City. The play is a mesmerizing show full of costumes and wonder for theatregoers of all ages.

In this compelling story by beloved author Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda”), a young orphan named James accidentally drops magic crystals by an old peach tree, and strange things start to happen. James soon discovers a world of magic and adventure full of friendly insects and learns that love and family can be found in unexpected places.

Finding the right peach

“We are so excited to present ‘Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach’ as part of our 10th anniversary season,” said Sierra Stages music director Ken Getz. “I instantly fell in love with the score upon hearing the 2015 cast recording, and immediately tried to figure out how Sierra Stages could bring the show to Nevada County. Unfortunately, at that time, the only version that was available for licensing was one-hour long and designed to be performed by kids. However, at the end of 2016, the full two-act version became available and we jumped on the chance to present the show in our next available summer slot.”

“‘Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach’ also gives us an opportunity to include young actors in our cast and attract young audiences to the theatre,” said Sierra Stages managing director Peter Mason. “Over the past nine years, we have done several family-friendly shows, including ‘The Sound of Music,’ ‘The Music Man,’ and ‘Peter Pan,’ with many kids in the cast and audience. For ‘Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach,’ in addition to casting a 10-year old as James, we have four teenagers in the ensemble.

“Because Roald Dahl’s book is well known, we expect to have lots of kids in the audience. At the same time, the show is entertaining and a lot of fun for older audiences too. It’s a great way for families to share the unique and exhilarating experience of live theatre.”

The book “James and the Giant Peach” was published in 1961 and launched Roald Dahl’s career as a children’s writer. One way that Dahl delighted his readers was to take often vicious revenge on cruel adults who had harmed children, as in “James and the Giant Peach.”

Many critics have objected to the rough treatment of adults. However, Dahl explained in the “New York Times Book Review” that the children who wrote to him always “pick out the most gruesome events as the favorite parts of the books … they don’t relate it to life; they enjoy the fantasy.”

Over his career, Dahl wrote 19 children’s books, nine short story collections and several television and movie scripts. He couldn’t type and always used a pencil to write his stories — stories that continue to thrill millions of children throughout the world.

The music behind the play

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are one of the hottest young songwriting teams working today on Broadway and in Hollywood. In 2017, they received a Tony Award for “Dear Evan Hansen” and an Academy Award for the movie “La La Land.” This year, they were nominated for an Academy Award for “The Greatest Showman.”

Pasek and Paul developed “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” over several years.

“It’s this sort of quirky, funky story, all driven by the unique, idiosyncratic vision of Dahl, ” said Paul.

One of the issues with the musical was how much of the darkness to maintain from the book.

“We knew it had to be dark, but not so dark that families couldn’t enjoy it,” said Paul. “There are dark elements that kids are excited by — ‘Oh my God, his parents were eaten by a rhinoceros! What’s going to happen?’”

“Yes, the evil aunts are evil,” said Pasek, “but they’ve got to be deliciously evil, so that you’re almost rooting for them because they’re so over the top. That’s how you find the lightness in the dark.”

The locals who put it all together

The Sierra Stages production of “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” is directed by Robert Rossman, with music direction by Ken Getz. Scenic and puppet design is by Teresa Shea, lighting design is by Erin Beatie and Devin Cameron Jewett, and costume design is by Leslie Dilloway.

The all-local Nevada County cast includes Bren Altenbach, Micah Cone, Kate Haight, Darrell Hovander, Tina Marie Kelley, Susan Mason, Danny McCammon, Dawn Simmons, Angela Williams, ​Audrey Delgado, Katie Dorland, Triston Druktenis, Vicki Goss, Jozi Gullickson, Reyn Smith, Mimi Vishoot and Jasper Waters. As with all Sierra Stages productions, “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” will feature a live theatre orchestra.


Performances of “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. All seating for the show is reserved.

For the first two “preview” performances on Thursday, July 12 and Friday, July 13, all seats in all rows are $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 4-12. For all other performances, seats in rows A-H are $35 for adults, $20 for children ages 4-12, and seats in rows J-O are $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 4-12.

Please note that children under age 4 will not be admitted. Special group rates are available for groups of 10 or more. Student Rush is also offered for $15 at the door (subject to availability) before each performance (age 25 & under with a valid student ID). For tickets and information, visit http://www.SierraStages.org or call Sierra Stages at 530-346-3210.

As part of Sierra Stages’ commitment to making sure that theater remains open and accessible to every member of our community, the Thursday, July 19, performance at 7:30 p.m. is a “Pay What You Can Performance” supported by a generous grant from Community Players Trust — helping to keep community theatre alive and thriving in Nevada County.

“Pay What You Can” tickets are sold on first-come, first-served basis at the Nevada Theatre box office beginning at 6 p.m. on the evening of the show. Accepting cash only and limited to two tickets to each person. Doors open at 7 p.m. with open seating.

Following “Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach”, Sierra Stages will conclude its 10th anniversary season with the classic and enduring American stage comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman (Sept. 20 through Oct. 6 at the Nevada Theatre).

For more information about Sierra Stages, visit http://www.SierraStages.org.

Source: Sierra Stages

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