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The Perfectly Imperfect Bond in ‘James And The Giant Peach’

New musical version of classic Roald Dahl tale focuses on family, friendship and bravery

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new family-friendly musical based on a Roald Dahl classic tale ignites the imagination through the use of shadow puppetry, storytelling and movement, to bring the impossible to life in an intimate black box theater as part of Northwestern University’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts Imagine U Season.

Geared for children ages 5 to 10, “James and the Giant Peach” emphasizes the importance of children using courage and wit to become their own hero and to build communities with others. The 70-minute musical features a book by Timothy Allen McDonald with music and lyrics by two Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project alumni -- Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Directed by Northwestern faculty member Rives Collins (“The Hundred Dresses”), performances will take place at the Wirtz Center’s Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Imagine U’s production of “James and the Giant Peach” will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14; 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21; 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28; and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, March 1.

Audience members are invited to attend the talkback discussions with the show’s cast members following the 2 p.m. Feb. 14; 5 p.m. Feb. 15; 2 p.m. Feb. 21; 5 p.m. Feb. 22; 2 p.m. Feb. 28; and 5 p.m. March 1 performances.

Dahl’s tale follows James, a “friendless” boy who is sent to an orchard by his conniving and “horrid” aunts to chop down their old fruit tree. Upon discovering a magic potion, which results in a tremendously large peach, James begins a journey of enormous proportions when he suddenly finds himself in the center of the peach among human-sized insects with equally oversized personalities. When the gigantic peach falls from the tree and rolls into the ocean, the group faces hunger, sharks and numerous disagreements. However, thanks to James’ quick wit and creative thinking, the peach’s residents learn to live and work together as a family.

“We start out with James being all alone in this story,” Collins said. “But soon, his cleverness, kindness and ability to be compassionate to others leads him to find and build a new family, a found family of choice, who choose to love one another and stand by one another, sometime in the face of great loss and peril. There is something profoundly heartwarming about a community coming together despite being perfectly imperfect.”

For background information on author Roald Dahl’s tale, visit

To purchase tickets, call the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282 or online at

Topics: Books, Events, Theatre
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