by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
“James and the Giant Peach,” a tale of a lonely boy who finds strange new friends and harrowing adventures after crawling into the peach’s pit, was presented cleverly and colorfully by Spectrum High School in three performances last week.
“I am pleased with how the play turned out,” said director Daniel McLaughlin, a St. Paul-based actor and script writer, “and very proud of our actors for rallying together and creating a fun performance in a short time.”
The “Peach” cast ranged from seventh-grader Ethan Aune (James) to seniors Josiah Roberts (Earthworm and Aunt Spiker), Alyssa Spofford (Ladybug), and Kendra Rasmussen (Spider). The cast proved to be a nice ensemble, all bringing something unique.
“One of my favorite things was seeing James and the bugs inside the peach in all their eclectic glory,” said the director.
The cast also included Nathan Roberts (Old Green Grasshopper), Zachary Hassing (Centipede), Bethanie Hinckley (Glowworm), Megan Averill (Silkworm), Preston Loewenstein (Aunt Sponge), Megan Hassing and Marie Miller (Narrators), Eastan Lieberg (Mysterious Woman), Zoe Behnken (The Captain), Carter Hansen (First Officer), and Anthony Kath (Second Officer).
Extras in various scenes were Jordyn Benson, Jessica Bolles, Audrey Kotek, Anita Staup, Lynnda Haber, and Megan and Trisha Averill).
Roberts, a talented veteran who’s played several eccentric roles, bounced back and forth, from the scheming, outlandish Auntie Preston Loewenstein (with gray wig and dress), to the blind, cynical, grumbling Earthworm.
“I’ll miss spending rehearsals with that crew,” the director reflected. “My special thanks to Spectrum for the opportunity, and to the kids for being so great to work with.”
For help with the outrageous costumes and set, McLaughlin enlisted his friend Nate Farley, a librarian at Northwestern-St. Paul who designs, paints and acts on the side. Farley and McLaughlin also opened the play vaudeville-style, and introduced the various bugs.
“Peach” was adapted for the stage by Paul Fleischman from the original story by Roald Dahl.
The next Spectrum production will be the spring play, also directed by McLaughlin.