Susquehannock theatre poses on stage during their musical debut of, “James and the Giant Peach”. Photograph by Lauren Paules

Susquehannock Takes a Bite Out of the Musical, “James and The Giant Peach.”

March 30, 2023

A giant peach, two evil aunties, larger-than-life singing insects, and an adventurous story…
What could go wrong?

In the case of Susquehannock’s theatre debut of the musical, “James and the Giant Peach,” the answer is close to nothing.

On Friday, March 24, Susquehannock theatre presented “James and the Giant Peach,” a musical performance that features James, a young orphaned boy, played by junior Cordelia Jenkins, and his adventure to escape his two evil aunties aboard a gigantic peach, all the while befriending enlarged insects.

Susquehannock theatre poses on stage during their musical debut of, “James and the Giant Peach.” Photograph by Lauren Paules

The costumes and makeup, devised by the head of costume and makeup design Jen Addotta, were eclectic, bright and entertaining.

Addotta’s final show for the Susquehannock high school was on Sunday, March 26. The costumes were an unmistakable last hurrah for the imaginative creator with two of her designs sticking out to the audience.

Addotta had Spider, portrayed by freshman Kiley Herzog, sporting a yellow, black and white style, with a skirt, delicate spiderweb makeup, and delightful theme. Alongside Herzog stood senior Erica Broadaway, who played Ladybug, and she was outfitted in a mix of black polka dots speckled across a red background to thoroughly encompass the idea of her character.

Overall, the costumes developed by Addotta stood out to audience members and accentuated the performance of the characters on stage.

Lighting and visuals, led by lead of projections and lighting senior Ian Davis and assistant lighting director sophomore Brennan Ledesma, featured several clever uses of spotlights, colored lights and projection.

Throughout the performance, the background was established by a projection of the setting, whether that be the backdrop of a giant peach in the ocean or the decrepit garden of the Auntie’s house. It was well-made and frequently well-timed to the character’s actions on stage, which added to the enactment and provided the audience with a clear idea of what was ensuing within the show.

However, possibly due to budgeting, moving spaces and lack of space backstage, the projection appeared to become more of a crutch for the performance than an addition, as there was an apparent lack of props in some scenes, with that vacant space being left up to the projection and lighting to fill. Despite this, the entirety of the lighting and projection of the background added ingenuity and involvement to the performance which made the show all the more pleasant to watch.

The music, executed by the leads, the ensemble and the orchestra, was continuously uplifting, catchy and amusing.

The orchestra set the mood of each scene and song with their music while the cast exhibited an impressive range of talented singers. The tunes varied from hysterical to heartfelt and were performed enthusiastically by those on stage. Undeniably, the number called, “Plump and Juicy,” featuring junior Teddy Hill who plays Earthworm, was a favorite of the crowd and sent many members of the audience into fits of laughter.

Teddy Hill is lifted above the heads of Kiley Herzog, Cordelia Jenkins, Erica Broadaway, Kyle Billings, and Owen Lutz during the musical number, “Plump and Juicy.” Photograph by Lauren Paules

Among the skillful cast, the voices of junior Cordelia Jenkins and senior Erica Broadaway stuck out to the crowd.

Enacting the character James, it was clear that Jenkins’s voice was an excellent fit for the character, as she hit every note and executed the songs virtually flawlessly.

Playing Ladybug, Broadaway delivered a heartfelt and assertive performance in the song, “Everywhere That You Are,” with a voice that filled the theater and reached the ears of the audience.

However, presumably due to the space of the auditorium in which they performed, projecting their voices was a challenge for every member of the cast, as those in the audience sitting in the back of the area frequently could not make out the words being said on stage.

The chemistry on stage between the cast was energizing and enjoyable to watch, with the two evil aunties, Spiker and Sponge, grabbing the audience’s attention with their wonderfully wicked partnership. Spiker, played by senior Ellie Dunaja, and Sponge, played by senior Camille Rowe, worked well off of one another to make every scene they were in upbeat, engaging and enjoyable.

Camille Rowe and Ellie Dunaja look woefully out to the crowd during the musical production of “James and the Giant Peach.” Photograph by Lauren Paules

For a high school musical, there was an impressive depth of emotion from most of the characters. However, at times it seemed as though the script’s action was moving around the character of James, rather than involving him in it. Regardless, Jenkins’s angelic voice more than made up for and negated any stereotypical criticism for any high school cast showcasing inexperienced acting.

Overall, the atmosphere, cast, crew, costumes, lighting and music made for an enjoyable experience, and the hard work of everyone involved was evident in the pleasant product of the production.

It was worth $10 to see the turnout, and it receives a rating of four out of five feathers.


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