James and the Giant Peach

Date 8th November 2018
Society Leeds Childrens Theatre
Venue Carriageworks Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Janine Walker
Musical Director N/A
Choreographer N/A


Author: Christine Castle

I had no idea, until I read the programme notes, that this story was Roald Dahl's first attempt at writing for children - it was nearly called 'James and the Giant Cherries', as Roald walked around his garden, thinking of a theme for his book. The book was an instant success and has been cleverly adapted by David Wood for the stage with original music by Mary McAdam.

'James and the Giant Peach' is the perfect play for this talented and thriving Children's Theatre, involving, as it does, both adults and children. The tale is typical Roald Dahl - James, having lost his parents in a tragic rhinoceros accident, is sent to live with his horrible aunts. Whilst there, a man gives him magical crocodile tongues, (oh yes!) - James accidentally spills them on to a barren peach tree, making the tree produce a very large single peach!! Living within the tree is a wonderful menagerie of over-large insects. The 'Peach' then takes them all on a spectacular journey and lands, eventually, in New York!

The play, along with a few songs, was excellently directed by Janine Walker, who made it easy for her exceptional cast to play their parts to the full - as always with LCT productions, I heard every word of dialogue clearly and it was lovely to see adults and children acting so well together. The named principals were well supported by an excellent ensemble of children.

The creative team was once again managed by Dan Dainter to a very high standard. Colourful settings with good lighting and sound design (Gary Loughrey and Chris Beardwell) enhanced the production, with imaginative props by Jane Curtin and I have to make special mention of the brilliant costumes by the team of 'Mandi, Mavis and Jane' with help from friends of LCT. The hair and make-up by Michelle Petrow and Manda Lister added to the overall, very professional, look of the production.

I also discovered that this group was formed in 1935, making it the oldest Children's Theatre in the country - they have been encouraging children to love theatre, to work in it and gain invaluable experience. The fact that adult actors are also involved gives an added bonus for the youngsters to watch and learn - I have every faith that LCT will be in business for many more years to come. Congratulations to everyone involved in 'James and the Giant Peach', a marvellous evening's entertainment and so enjoyed by the audience, young and old a like!