Valdosta Daily Times

March 14, 2013

James and the Giant Peach

Two casts enjoy the fruits of children’s play

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — After “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” better known to many as “Willie Wonka,” children’s author Roald Dahl’s best-known work is “James and the Giant Peach.”

In this tale, a young orphan boy named James has strange adventures with insects and others upon entering a magical, giant peach.

This week and next weekend, Gingerbread Players of Theatre Guild Valdosta presents playwright David Wood’s stage adaptation of Dahl’s beloved tale.

Creating a play filled with lively insects and a magical, giant peach is no easy feat, and Gingerbread Players have upped the ante. Director Lynnette Kenworthy had so many talented kids arrive for the show’s auditions that she wanted to use as many as possible. Kenworthy tapped several children to play the show’s flock of seagulls and sharks, but she also double-cast many of the principal roles. There are two Jameses, for example, as well as two groups of insects. Cast A will perform one show then Cast B the next, etc., on a rotating basis.

Two casts placed more work on Kenworthy and assistant director Robin McLendon’s shoulders, but two casts give more children an opportunity to shine on stage.

Joining the numerous child performers are two veteran Theatre Guild members. Sisters Brenda Brunston and Diane Brunston play Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker.

While two youngsters, Jackson Anderson and Billy McLendon, rotate playing James, one Giant Peach is hidden backstage. A critical prop given its second billing in the show’s title, and audiences should be

impressed with the Gingerbread Players’ work even in a region known for its famous Georgia peaches.

THE CAST: Jackson Anderson, Billy McLendon, Raini Singleton, Kara Nelson, Shelby Stacey, Ashley Slade, Isaiah Carlile, Jinjer Hammond, Maggie Tarpley, Madison Ott, Jon Michael Slawinski, David Bass, Diane Marie Brunston, Brenda Kay Brunston, Katie Lancaster, Andrew Rogers, Charlly Young, Sommers Coleman, Kaitlyn Albritton, Ryan McGee, Dallas Freeman, Sean Manning, Mary Catherine Burns, Samantha Kassum, Nicole Sinnott, Naja Aleem, John Laurent Dean, Asa Gaines, Claire Hannasch, Zoe Lammons, Rebecca Lancaster, Elijah Ochoa, Lucia “Razzie” Raspet, Taylor Sparrow.

DIRECTION, PRODUCTION: Lynnette Kenworthy, director; Robin McLendon, assistant director; Lindsay Herring, scenic designer; Rosemary Coleman, scenic artist, assistant stage manager; Katelynn Kenworthy, costume designer; Brenda Kay Brunston, producer, dialects coach; Teresa Doscher, stage manager; Pauline Owens, costume mistress; Keri Dean, Mary Ann Green, Meredith Lancaster, Elaine McMilian, Shannon Ott, Wanda Rice, Mindy Sparrow, Kelli Thomason, Mary Helen Watson, costume crew; Lois Allbritton, props mistress; Parker Allbritton, Ellie Carlile, Katelynn Kenworthy, sound and light board operators; Kimberly Lammons, backstage crew; Ryan Swaims, graphic designer; Charney Young, front of house manager.