“It’s Bittersweet”: James and the Giant Peach Has a Juicy Star Quality!

Far from being “Pit”a-ful production, this show took the cake (pie?) and made a smoothie exit with audience hearts

Giana Kusterer, Editorial Board

British author Roald Dahl has many notable stories, ranging from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The BFG and, of course, James and the Giant Peach. Many children in the audience on March 24th, 25th, and 26th recognized his storyline and were excited for his ‘peachy’ personality to come to life on Brewster High School’s mainstage production of James and the Giant Peach, produced by students Adeline Benvenuto, Jarrid Brygmann, and student director Kiera Golash.

The Plot:

James and the Giant Peach is a well-known book written by Dahl and an award-winning film in the industry. This 1961 classic, narrated by Ladahlord (Ivelisse Arocho) is based on a young boy, James Trotter (Alexandra Schajer), who lives in an orphanage for most of his life. One day, he discovers that he has a family, Aunts Spiker (Tessa Boissonnault) and Sponge (Autumn Takacs), in which he goes to stay with. However, he isn’t aware of their intentions, and soon comes to the realization of their manipulative and conniving personalities. After being treated like a servant as opposed to a family member, James is instructed to chop down a peach tree. However, he fails at this task, and instead encounters a series of strange and wondrous events. After waking up to a giant peach hovering over him, James’ curiosity gets the best of him, and he soon digs his way through the center of the peach. In shock, James finds overgrown talking and singing insects, including Centipede (Matthew Kilman), Ladybug (Theo Torres), Spider (Arianna Arocho), Grasshopper (Lucas Bertone), and Earthworm (Sabas Coronado-Mejia). Quickly, James befriends his new companions, and soon after, devises a plan to escape his evil aunts. After executing this plan by cutting off the peach’s stem, the ginormous fruit comes crashing down a hill, and eventually into the middle of the sea. As if nothing else can go wrong, hungry sharks start to surround the peach, in hopes of receiving an afternoon snack. James and his newly formed friends haven’t come this far for nothing, and are determined to defeat this obstacle set in the way of their journey. As a solution, they are able to lure seagulls with the Earthworm’s “plump and juicy” characteristics and attach the birds to the peach with Spider’s spool of web, flying the group away from the sharks and towards an iconic New York City!

Brewster’s Spotlight:

When first finding out about the musical, mouths were wide open and people were in denial, including myself. The recurring statement was, “There’s no way they can pull this off.” Well, Friday through Sunday, we were all proved wrong. Many viewers don’t realize that a musical is as successful as its actors, and with having incredible actors and crew workers, nothing is impossible. To start off, this show wouldn’t have been as successful as it was if it weren’t for student director Kiera Golash. Back in November, with the production of the fall drama, The Crucible, Kiera was not only a student director, but also was an actress. While talking with Kiera backstage, you can really see her not only leading the cast, but also having fun, as it was many of the seniors’ last show. She has claimed to “build great relationships” with her cast, and hopes to fulfill her role as a student director, as well as an actress next year in the spring musical.

In addition to the success of the show, actress Autumn Takacs brought the term ‘crazy’ to the next level. While portraying Aunt Sponge, Autumn was able to make almost every kid in the audience reciprocate with some form of a laugh, whether it was a giggle or chuckle. From her amazing costuming to her pristine British accent, she charmed the audience, and left a remarkable impression on not just the kids, but the adults as well. Considering this being Autumn’s senior year, I asked her how she felt, now that she is at the end of her journey after being in theater for seven years. Her response, and a mutual feeling among most that night, was “It’s bittersweet. I love these people, they are my family, and I am having the time of my life. But, this is a good send off for me.” We are so sad to see Autumn leave, especially with all of her spunk, but we wish her luck in pursuing childhood education. The children are lucky to have her.

Speaking of, when I tell you the kids were dancing, I mean it. Anytime Earthworm was wiggling on the stage, the kids in the audience were shimmying with him. Senior and actor Sabas Coronado-Mejia was the center of attention. Coming from many, it was determined that Sabas stole the show. With his hysterical commentary and Cocoons Flip-Ups, his acting was astounding, and many of us know it. Not many can tell that this was Sabas’ first lead role. As he has been in The Crucible, Footloose, and 4 Acts 4 Laughs, this was the show that really touched a part of his heart. As well as being an actor, Sabas has been a drummer for over four years. He even has a YouTube channel dedicated to his drumming, covering songs from Taylor Swift to OneRepublic, which are truly awesome. To further his percussionist career, he has decided to go to the Marines and play in the Marine Band. His reasoning was that he “is dedicated to commitment.” Before he performed his last show, I asked him the most common question, “What are you feeling right now?” Sabas responded with an answer that completed his theatrical journey. “I feel relieved. It’s been a struggle getting back and forth to rehearsals, but I am good at letting things like this go.” From BHS, we wish Sabas luck, and know he will do our country right.

Behind the Curtains:

While observing the lively culture of the cast and crew, many shared happy and saddening emotions as they were about to perform their last show. However, before they go on, they celebrate traditions passed down from the cast prior. To begin, they started off with awards. The way this worked was by making plaques out of paper plates and giving them to the adults who have inspired them the most on their lengthy journey. These awards went from “Honorary Senior Award” to the “Davies Let the Dogs Out Award” (if you know, you know). Additionally, traditions such as ‘shakes’, sit in Psalm silence, and hand squeezes were all passed down to the other castmates that will be potential leaders next year, in hopes of keeping these traditions alive. As the cast was about to sing their last song, dance their last dance, and act out their last scene, Nikki Sanders Sarini, director of the musical, had a couple of inspirational words to say. “Everything I saw was what I was waiting for. The sky’s the limit with creativity. This isn’t just a high school musical, it’s a form of art. Art is art, and you should all want it and work for it. This is some of you guys’ last show, so enjoy it and prove that you did it, a nutty and unusual musical. Go kill it.”

Performance photos courtesy 4 Sons Photography