This Memorial Day weekend, treat your family to a peach of a performance at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, brought to you by the talented kids at CharacterWorks. My family had the pleasure of catching opening night of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach Jr., and it did not disappoint.
Directed by CYT (now CharacterWorks) alumnus and Liberty University grad Carson Burkett, the play opens with an ensemble act, which really sets the stage for what’s to come during the next two hours (including a 20-minute intermission, where visitors can purchase snacks, souvenirs, and raffle tickets for some amazing prizes).
We first meet James, played by the adorable and talented Quioccasin Middle School seventh-grader Jay Davis (who last starred as Pugsley in Theatre VCU’s The Addams Family) at the orphanage where he lives, and we follow him to his new home with his two aunts, Sponge and Spiker. This pair, portrayed by Maggie Guice and Rose Sargent, both seventeen years old, stole the show, and in my humble opinion, should pack their bags and head to Broadway right this second. These young actors really, really made me dislike them – a lot! But oh, they made being horrible people so much fun to watch. Kudos on your first villain roles, girls – you nailed it!
James’ journey sends him on a voyage with his new friends, Ladybug (Aly Campana), Earthworm (Mason Jett), Centipede (Hatcher Teague), Grasshopper (Max Foster), and Spider (Audrey White), who were all fantastic in their roles. Mason Jett brought down the house with his rendition of Plump and Juicy – he had quite the legion of fans cheering him on, and made fast fans of the rest of us.
I always love introducing new families to CharacterWorks, and as is always the case, my friend and her 7- and 11-year-old kids were blown away by the talent displayed by the sixty young actors on stage. Who knows, seeing this fantastic performance from CharacterWorks may have just inspired the next Spiker or Sponge to give acting a try.
James and the Giant Peach continues with five performances at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen through Sunday, May 28. For showtimes and tickets, go here.