A Giant Peach Ripens: Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Timothy Allen McDonald Freshen Up James for Seattle

By Michael Gioia
29 Nov 2013

A scene from the show
Photo by Chris Bennion Photo

Throughout the two-act musical — in which James discovers a magical potion that makes an ordinary peach grow to an extraordinary size — as the Peach and its inhabitants grow, so do the puppets.

"Seeing it live is really exciting," said McDonald. "The interesting thing about James and the Giant Peach is that you're a ways into [the story] before you meet the [enlarged versions of the] characters that you're going to [spend time] with for most of the show. By introducing the insects one at a time as the show progresses, we hope that then audiences will have a little backstory, so when they become these anthropomorphized [creatures] — somewhere between a human and an insect — they have backstories, and you think, 'Oh! That's the ladybug from the first scene.' It seems like it's going to be pretty awesomely magical."

"I think the story itself is so peculiar [and] fascinating to the audience that you've accomplished [incorporating the darker themes of Roald Dahl's work] through the fact that you've got six-foot human beings playing earthworms and centipedes and speaking with this child," said Paul. "You've got a child on stage with a bunch of insects!"

The show continues in an extended engagement at Seattle Children's Theatre through Jan. 12, 2014, with hopes that James and his Giant Peach will travel around the States.

"Our hope and dream is to see this show go out into theatres, especially since we are — as we said — creating this show for young audiences," said Paul. "The plan is for all those young audiences to see the show and hopefully get a chance to talk about it with their family or their parents and teachers. Our goal is just that this production is the launching pad for this show…"

"Seattle Children's Theatre is a fantastic place to have the show premiere," added Pasek. "I don't think that we have designs to make it a Broadway show, but I think that anything that exists within the realm of Theatre for Young Audiences — whether that is a theatre in New York that caters to that audience or anywhere in the country, we'd be very excited… Right now, we're really just focused on making the best show possible in Seattle."

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

Watch the cast of James and the Giant Peach in rehearsal: