Sierra Stages presents James and the Giant Peach July 12-Aug.4

This summer, Sierra Stages is proud 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 August 4 at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City.

Danny McCammon, Bren Altenbach, and Dawn Simmons as Grasshopper, James, and Ladybug. Photo by David Wong

“Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach” is guaranteed to mesmerize theatre goers of all ages.  In this compelling story by beloved author Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “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. “We are so excited to present ‘Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach’ as part of our 10th anniversary season,” says 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,” says 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.”

Micah Cone as Lahdahlord and Bren Altenbach as James. Photo by David Wong

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.

Kate Haight and Susan Mason as Spiker and Sponge. Photo by David Wong

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, ”says Paul.  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 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Beginning this year, Sierra Stages is offering all reserved seating at the Nevada Theatre. 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. Student Rush is also offered for $15 at the door (subject to availability) before each performance (age 25 & under with a valid student ID).

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 (September 20 – October 6 at the Nevada Theatre). Sierra Stages is a nonprofit community theatre based in western Nevada County with a mission to provide quality productions that are affordable and accessible to everyone. Since it began nine years ago, Sierra Stages has presented 33 plays and musicals and 30 informal play readings (as part of Theater by the Book co-presented with the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.

For more information or tickets, visit SierraStages.org or call Sierra Stages at 530.346.3210.

Content submitted by Peter Mason