School of Music, Theatre and Dance presents ‘James and the Giant Peach’


Courtesy of Oakland University

“James and the Giant Peach” tells the story of a boy who finds a magic peach and uses it to escape his mean aunts.

The School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) is bringing “James and the Giant Peach” to campus.

“James and the Giant Peach” transports you back to your childhood, according to Vickie Dubrawski, a 40-year-old teacher and mother of two who loved reading the novel as a child. She hasn’t read the book in years, so it all came back while watching the show. Now, she hopes that her young children take away the perseverance of the characters in the story.

“I just want the kids to know that they can be problem solvers and they can work hard and not give up if they want to achieve something, or work through something that’s troubling them,” Dubrawski said.

SMTD has had performances May 17 and May 19, and has one more scheduled for June 7 in Varner Recital Hall on Oakland University’s main campus. The show is general admission with tickets costing $6 for students and $10 for the general public.

“James and the Giant Peach,” originally a novel written by Roald Dahl, is a story about how a young boy’s life changes after receiving a magical gift from an old man, leading to the adventure of a lifetime. James ends up escaping an abusive homelife, accompanied by seven human-sized insects in a giant peach.

22-year-old Mannon McIntosh is the stage manager, tour manager and assistant director for the show.

McIntosh said the props are made of foam and are purposely oversized, since the story takes place in a magical, cartoon-esque world.

She said the designers, including prop master Leilas Kaakarni, dove headfirst into every idea that she and the director, Lynnae Lehfeldt, had.

“What you’re seeing on stage has come from the director’s imagination and all the designers’ imagination,” she said. “That’s our version of the story.”

Dubrawski said she believes the props helped the kids imagine the story without taking anything away from the quality.

“The timing of everything was awesome,” she said. “The way the props were moved very quickly, and they were very nice, just kind of helped everything come together and make it more imaginable and more enjoyable.”

McIntosh said she worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts last year as a stage manager, which is where the idea to do “James and the Giant Peach” came from.

As soon as she brought the idea up to the cast, she said it was truly nostalgic for everyone, since most had read the story when they were kids.

McIntosh said they also get that vibe from the elementary schools to which they bring the shows.

“I think the reactions we get from the students at the school are the most fun thing,” she said.

OU has been touring these performances for the last five to six years, with a big emphasis on exposure to theater for young kids. McIntosh said she hopes the kids leave with an appreciation for theater.

Though the story is geared toward children, McIntosh said people of all ages will be able to enjoy it.

“I think what’s really important is sometimes taking a step back and seeing the world the way that you saw it when you were eight,” she said. “A big part of the story is that no matter how bad things seem like they are, things are always going to get better.”

For more information, visit the SMTD website.