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February 24, 2016
by Mara Surridge
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD 20812
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James and the Giant Peach is musical based on the popular book by Roald Dahl. After losing his parents in a freak zoo accident, James (Eli Shulman or Henry Neipoetter) is sent to live with his nasty aunts. When they send him to chop down their old peach tree, he meets the magical Ladahlord (Keith James and the Giant Peach at Adventure Theatre MTCRichards) who helps him make a potion that will change his life. But before he can drink it, he trips and falls, spilling the potion right under the peach tree. The magic is not lost; it goes into the peach tree and suddenly an enormous peach begins to grow. James quickly learns that the peach isn't the only thing that grew - the insects that were living on the tree grew too - and James and the insects set off on a magical adventure.

The show features an original score by the Tony Award nominated team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and was adapted from the book by Timothy Allen McDonald. The music is fabulous - several times I looked over to see my daughter dancing along in her chair.

For those familiar with the book, there are some changes to the story. Most notably, the larger role played by Aunt Spiker (Karen Vincent) and Aunt Sponge (Awa Sak Secka). While it confused my daughter at first (we had just finished reading the book together knowing we would be seeing the play), it was a welcome change considering how phenomenal the two actresses were. I'm not exaggerating when I say that we would go to see the play again just to see Spiker and Sponge. The play also significantly shortens the journey James & the insects make on the peach, completely eliminating the scenes with the cloud men. I was actually worried that those scenes would be too scary for little ones, so not having them was a relief (and did not alter the rest of the story).

We all really loved the fanciful costumes and amazing wigs. That's right - wait till you see the wigs. All of the actors are fantastic but we especially loved the overly nervous Earthworm (Tobias Young) and the grumpy Centipede (Joshua Simon). On the way home, my daughter kept talking about how funny the Centipede was and how he shouldn't have been so grumpy since he was, after all, on a giant peach.

James and the Giant Peach at Adventure Theatre MTC  James and the Giant Peach at Adventure Theatre MTC
 

James and the Giant Peach is children's theater but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well. We were impressed with how they brought a favorite story to life and kept the audience engaged throughout the journey. It's probably our favorite show we've seen at Adventure Theatre MTC.

Adventure Theatre MTC is a small, intimate theater that's perfect for children. Seating is first-come, first served, and there didn't seem to be a bad seat in the theater. We also liked that it was not too loud, even during the musical numbers. The show is a little longer than the other shows we've seen here before - appropriately 70 minutes long. It's still totally manageable for young children (though you might want to take a bathroom break before it starts!). It's also important to note that the cast does go up the stairs/aisles during the show, so if you have a nervous child, you may want to seat them towards the center of the row.

Adventure Theatre MTC is located at Glen Echo Park. The theater is a bit of a walk from the parking lot, so leave yourself a little extra time to get there. The carousel is closed for the winter, but if it's a nice day out be sure to stop by the playground! There is also an aquarium that looked like a lot of fun, as well as various artists and other activities going on.

James and the Giant Peach runs from February 14 to April 5, 2016. There are 2 or 3 shows a day and extra shows during the weeks of local schools' spring breaks. Tickets for all ages are $19.50 each.

Photos by Bruce Douglas.

Reviews

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We won tickets thru another site and had a GREAT time! I remember being here numerous times when I was little for many plays...! My kids big and little(10 girl, 15boy,) loved the play though very different from the actual movie, they still enjoyed it! I was surprised my older one who is spectrum still enjoyed it with all the differences and changes that were made, but I guess it's the contemporary version he liked:)

By: SusanA on Fri Apr 22, 2016