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Friday, 25 November 2016

Review: James And The Giant Peach at Newcastle Northern Stage



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Absolutely Scrumptious

James And The Giant Peach
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 31st December 2016

Roald Dahl’s 1961 classic book has been lovingly transferred to the stage in this visually exciting production. The young audience were transfixed by the action and their parents could be heard describing how great it had been as they left. That’s mission accomplished for Northern Stage and the show fits in well with their other classic Christmas stories. A pantomime it may not be, but it frequently breaks down that fourth wall to engage the young minds in the audience. If this rich experience of theatre is the child’s first then there is every likelihood that they will want to return.


Photo: Topher McGrillis
The story starts in New York and the audience is introduced to James Henry Trotter (Stan Hodgson) and the stone at the centre of his infamous peach.  Quickly the story moves back to England and a happy time when he lived with his parents and had lots of friends. Disaster occurs when his parents visit London and he finds himself in the care of the cruel Aunt Spiker (Alice Blundell) and Aunt Sponge (Michael Blair) who make his life awful. An old man (Tim Dalling) offers James some magic which ends up growing a massive peach, along with some creatures nearby.


Photo: Topher McGrillis
As the peach, along with James and his new creature friends, bounces off, they find themselves on a new adventure.  The success of this production is down to how well the cast relate to the younger members of the audience and thankfully, in this respect, the show is very good. The cast do a good job in relating to the young audience members. Lana Walker, as the Ladybird; Clara Darcy, as Miss Spider; Tim Dalling as the Grasshopper; Maria Crocker as the Centipede and Michael Blair as the grumpy Earthworm are all recognisable to the children. An ensemble consisting of Edward Christensen, Rebecca Graham, Alex Hall, John Halliday, Leah Mains and Cara Wylie support the action well as James’ friends, sharks and assorted other characters. One of the highlights is the underwater world later in the show which is a real team effort and a credit to the director Mark Calvert.


Photo: Topher McGrillis
The set and costume design by Rhys Jarman is worth noting as the normal stage has been taken out and it is extended into the normal seating area. This results in the audience sitting on 3 sides around a central performance area. This results in bringing the action closer to the younger audience. The costumes look wonderful too for the numerous minibeasts.


Photo: Topher McGrillis
The sound design from Nick John Williams ensures that the cast be heard without being too loud.

The show also features live music, performed under the musical director Jeremy Bradfield, on stage. Many of the cast get involved in creating the music, which fits in well with the story.


Photo: Topher McGrillis
This show is advertised as being aimed the 5-11 age group and that is an accurate description of the audience that will really appreciate it. It is a magical show that will excite the younger theatre goers over the 2 hours (including interval). Our 13 year old Roald Dahl fan gave the show praise and said it was “absolutely scrumptious”.

Review by Stephen Oliver– follow on Twitter as @NETheatreGuide


Cast:
Michael Blair - Aunt Sponge/Earthworm
Alice Blundell - Aunt Spiker/ Mrs Trotter/TV reporter/Captain
Jeremy Bradfield - Tour Guide/Mr Trotter
Maria Crocker - Centipede
Tim Dalling - Old Green Grasshopper/Old Man
Clara Darcy - Miss Spider
Stan Hodgson - James
Lana Walker – Ladybird
Creative team:
Mark Calvert – Director
Rebecca Frecknall - Associate Director
Rhys Jarman - Designer
Colin Grenfell – Lighting designer
Jeremy Bradfield – Composer/Performer
Nick John Williams – Sound Designer
Martin Hylton – Movement Director
Meghan Doyle - Assistant Director
Tickets:
Blue (Preview) performances: £12 adult | £10 child
Green performances: £16 adult | £10 child
Orange performances: £18 adult | £12 child
All Welcome. Recommended ages 5-11 years
Tickets are now on sale at http://www.northernstage.co.uk/whats-on/roald-dahls-james-and-the-giant-peachor call the box office on 0191 230 5151.

PLEASE NOTE:
If you require a ticket for children under 12 months old, please contact the box office on 0191 230 5151.

For school group bookings please contact our box office 0191 230 5151 or email Ruth RMcFarlane@northernstage.co.uk 








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