Pasek and Paul

Sweet treat: James’s giant peach

Oregon Children's new musical-theater adaptation brings Roald Dahl's tale to juicy life

The young, award-winning duo Pasek and Paul have set the somewhat dark Roald Dahl book James and the Giant Peach to a memorable score. Oregon Children’s Theatre has assembled a large and talented cast to bring this production to life for audiences young, older and many-legged.

Funny, plump and juicy, this James and the Giant Peach begins as a magiquarium to the senses, an old-timey spellbound set that conjures up seaside boardwalks where a few yarns might be spun around a crystal ball, games of chance will seal your fate (or possibly take the last of your allowance), and unusual creatures from the most distant places on the globe are put on display. The catchy, inspired overture floats through the air on strings like a delightful nod to Rodgers and Hammerstein: some classical motifs put it in a Broadway frame. Our narrator, Ladahlord (Gerrin Delane Mitchell) bolts out onto the stage and introduces us to the backstory of James Henry Trotter with a vocal dynamo that recalls a younger Ben Vereen. Between Mitchell’s acrobatic dancing and recounting of the young James’s life, a little Dixieland Jazz kicks in.

James and Lahdalord: all that glitters. Photo: Owen Carey

James and Lahdalord: all that glitters. Photo: Owen Carey

Mark Haack’s set design transforms from posters and lights of the midway at a fair, to an immense and elaborate European-styled puppet theater with its layers of walls, which move in and out, back, forth, and through. There’s an organic charm to this lifesize diorama, reminiscent of daydreaming during school,which is the root of a Dahl story.