James and the Giant Peach heads to Rugby

James and the Giant Peach
James and the Giant Peach

A marvellous, magical Easter treat is in store for all the family when the curtain opens on Rugby Theatre’s next production, a stage version of James and the Giant Peach.

The team at the Henry Street venue have pulled out all the stops for their production of Roald Dahl’s classic about a little boy's adventure with a group of giant insects.

It features specially written songs, animations, puppets, animatronics, a 37-strong cast of adults and children – and, of course, a simply enormous peach.

The theatre’s artistic director, Robert Sloan, has pulled the epic production together, the story being originally adapted by David Wood for the Birmingham Rep.

Taking the title role in the show is nine-year-old local boy Jack Jones, who’s a Year 5 pupil at English Martyrs School in Hillmorton.

Robert said: “We auditioned lots of boys for the part – and, I have to say, we were bowled over by the standard of the kids.

“Jack stood out as having a lovely mix of innocence, sparkiness and life. He was also the youngest – so we took a bit of a chance.

“But I must say, he’s worked incredibly hard since we started rehearsing at the start of January. The character of James is hardly ever off the stage, so it’s a big challenge for him.”

Jack isn’t a complete stranger to the stage. He’s a member of the Christine Anderson Theatre School in Hillmorton, where he’s trained in all types of dance, as well as singing and acting.

“I’ve really loved being James, and I’m looking forward to getting on stage in front of an audience,” said Jack. “I’m not too nervous yet. Just excited. I can’t wait!”

Jack has been backed up by 12-year-old Archie Parker, who has also learned the part, and will perform as James on Wednesday and the final matinee.

Robert said: “Archie has also been absolutely wonderful to work with. I am incredibly lucky to have two very talented Jameses!

“It’s been my most ambitious project to date,” added Robert, who also directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2014, and One Man, Two Guvnors in 2016, among others.

“We collaborated with the amazingly talented James Grady on the music for One Man, Two Guvnors. And we’ve been incredibly lucky that James has joined us for this show too, composing some fantastic stuff that’s blown me away.

“It’s been a real team effort, with such a lot to pull together. I can’t thank everyone who’s been involved enough.

“I can’t wait for audiences to meet James and his band of giant insects!”

James and the Giant Peach opens on Saturday, April 7, and runs until Saturday, April 14. There are matinees on both Saturdays. There are no performances on Sunday, April 8.

Tickets for are available from the Rugby Theatre box office on 01788 541234, or the website, www.rugbytheatre.co.uk.