Exclusive! Music Theatre International To License Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's James and the Giant Peach

News   Exclusive! Music Theatre International To License Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's James and the Giant Peach
Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, featuring a score by Tony-nominated songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and a book by Timothy Allen McDonald, has been acquired for licensing in the Theatre For Young Audiences (TYA) student and community theatre markets by Music Theatre International (MTI).

Justin Paul and Benj Pasek
Justin Paul and Benj Pasek Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The musical is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Pasek and Paul wrote the scores to Off-Broadway's Dogfight and Broadway's A Christmas Story.

"'James and the Giant Peach' has been an international cultural phenomenon since its first publication over 50 years ago," said MTI president Drew Cohen in a statement. "Just as Dahl firmly believed in never talking down to children, we’ve seen how this show's exploration of the true nature of family resonates with audiences of all ages. From the very first workshops, our customers have been asking when they can present James in their community. We are looking forward to seeing their productions come to fruition in imaginative ways."

Licensing applications for Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach TYA are now being accepted here. Later this year, a 60-minute version of the show will be available as part of MTI's Broadway Junior library of musicals, featuring supplemental production and educational materials. The two-act version of the show is expected to be made available for licensing in fall 2016.

The album for the musical will be available to the public in April. The recording features Megan Hilty (Ladybug), Christian Borle (Grasshopper), Brian d'Arcy James (Centipede), Jackie Hoffman (Spiker), Mary Testa (Sponge), Luca Padovan (James), Marc Kudisch (Ladahlord), Daniel Breaker (Earthworm) and Sarah Stiles (Spider).

The show is already taking root in the educational and community theatre market. Two dozen Kansas students, representing 14 high schools, will offer the world premiere of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach (two-act version) at the 2016 Kansas Thespian Conference next January. Students from Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School's BRAVO program premiered selections from the musical at this year's 2015 Junior Theater Festival. Watch it below:

Read more about the musical in the Playbill.com story "A Giant Peach Ripens," in which the creators describe how they freshen up the piece for the stage.

Currently running at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, James and the Giant Peach premiered at the Seattle Children's Theatre (SCT) in November 2013 and was directed by SCT artistic director Linda Hartzell. An earlier incarnation had an extended workshop at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, CT.

The musical, according to press notes, "is based on the beloved book by Roald Dahl and tells the story of a young orphaned child who finds a loving family in a most peculiar way. Sent by his mean, conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, James discovers a magic potion which results in a tremendous peach occupied by some not-so-normal characters. From the center of the gigantic fruit, James and the unlikely crew launch a journey of enormous proportions. Together they discover that while we are all born into a family, we then go on to create a family of our own."

The Dahl family and the Dahl estate have been part of the show's transformation from the page to the stage. McDonald first collaborated with the Dahls when he and Leslie Bricusse were selected to adapt "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" into a musical.

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