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Cappies Review: 'James And The Giant Peach' At Oakcrest School

Patch logo Patch 2/26/2020 Emily Leayman
a group of people posing for the camera: Devon Bogucki, Lili Leoung Tat, Elizabeth Eckel, Marianna Arguello, Bianca Navarro and Katiebelle Thompson perform in "James and the Giant Peach." © Rui Barros Devon Bogucki, Lili Leoung Tat, Elizabeth Eckel, Marianna Arguello, Bianca Navarro and Katiebelle Thompson perform in "James and the Giant Peach."

By Addie Winger of Loudoun Valley High School

Float along with James and his ridiculous family of oversized insects at Oakcrest High School. Across the ocean, and beyond the imagination, James and the Giant Peach is a fun, lively musical packed with adventure.

Based on the children's novel of the same name, James and the Giant Peach was written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. In 1996 the story was adapted in conjunction with Disney for a live-action and stop-motion animation film. The beloved tale later made its debut at Goodspeed Musicals in 2010 with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

The story follows an orphaned young British boy named James Henry Trotter. Following the death of his parents by a man-eating rhino, he is forced to live with his cruel con-artist aunts. James soon discovers an enormous enchanted peach in which he rolls to the sea. Accompanied by a crew of singing insects, James sets sail for New York City.

Elizabeth Eckel captured the curious child-like demeanor of James with her wide-eyed expressions and timid mannerisms. Eckel's melancholic performance of "On your way home" made the audience wish they could get up and give the lonely James a hug.

Proving family can come in all shapes and sizes, James's adopted family of creepy crawlies captured the sometimes dysfunctional love that makes a family. Ladybug's (Grace McGovern) sweet, warm demeanor embodied the motherly love James's longed for. McGovern displayed her vocal talent in a heartwarming rendition of "Everywhere that you are." In contrast, Centipede's prickly attitude and rude retorts were delivered expertly by Claire McLaughlin. McLaughlin's low notes complimented McGovern's sweet soprano beautifully with challenging harmonies.

Megan Meehan's impish facial expressions lit up the stage in her portrayal of the spellbinding storyteller Ladahlord (an anagram for Roald Dahl). Meehan's unwavering energy and animated movements demanded the audience's attention every time she stepped on stage.

Parasol in hand, Eli Crishock slithered across the staged, displaying Earthworm's silly comments and nervous attitude. Crishock showed off her dance moves in "Plump and Juicy" as the luscious little worm offered herself as bait to the swarming seagulls.

James's evil Aunts Spiker (Katiebelle Thompson) and Sponge (Devon Bogucki) contrasted each other comedically as the quintessential evil duo. Together, Thompson and Bogucki's excessive greed and constant chastising of James created a wickedly hilarious pair.

Lighting design by Kateri Castillo creatively used the character of Glow Worm (Frances North) as the light source within the peach. Whenever North would clap her hands the stage would light up. Additionally, the lighting team's use of the spotlight to mimic searchlights added to the intensity of Spiker and Sponge's hunt for "their" beloved peach.

Grace McGovern's steampunk, Victorian era costume design skillfully embodied a humanistic version of each insect. The incorporation of a red scarf in Ladybug's costume and glasses on Grasshopper's head cleverly symbolized their roles as James's parental figures.

Oakcrest High School's production of James and the Giant Peach is an absurd adventure filled with laughter and jazzy music. The show reminds us of the true meaning of family as James realizes friends can be all the family one needs.

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