Drama Review: James and the Giant Peach


The opening scene of this year’s spring musical of “James and the Giant Peach” set the whimsical tone of show right off the bat. A fervently sung solo from Ladahlord (junior KT Wirth) turned into an elaborate musical number with stage lights reflecting an orange hue and flashy costumes and dance routines flooding the Diamond Bar High School stage from every direction.

Though the musical might be  confusing to the average audience member due to the abstract plot, what the cast missed in clarity was made up for in performance.

I attended the night of the purple cast, starring freshman Gabriella Jones as the lead role of James Henry Trotter. Jones did an amazing job playing the role of James. While in the book the lead role is a little boy, Jones pulled off her part very convincingly and created scenes that allowed the audience to sympathize with the poor curious boy.

Other notable characters included sophomore Grace Thomas’s portrayal of Earthworm, with her nervous maneuvers and self-deprecating humor. To me, that was the main source of comedic relief throughout the mostly wholesome and traditional play.

My favorite character, however, was Ladahlord, the  calm and mysterious narrator who always seemed to take the limelight away from James whenever she was onstage with her captivating acting skills and charming performances of “Right before your eyes.”

The best attributes of the musical, however, were not the student performances but rather the creative take on set design, costuming and orchestral accompaniment. These elements were engaging and made the overall experience really captivating.

Upon walking into the theatre, my eyes were drawn to the lit up wooden peach arrangement with stairs on both sides and a screen used to project graphics and story elements. The old fashioned projector screening added an interesting two story layer element that was used to show flashbacks along with dreams and used to show when the peach was on a tree, in the ocean or over New York City.

On either side of the theatre were impressive posters reflecting the vintage circus theme, featuring students posing in art deco style with their flamboyant costumes such as the dog faced man  or the bearded lady. Additionally, a sub stage was built in front of the stage pit that brought the actors up close and personal with the audience making for a undeniably lively show as they performed what seemed like only inches away from you.

What tied it all together was the impeccable musical performance that made the songs and dances and transition sounds all the more whimsical. The music performed by the DBHS symphony filled the stage with so much life and emotion that really allowed the actors on stage make the fantastical story what it was and made up for the confusing storyline.