The lights dimly reveal the stage of the new West Hall Theater. With a smirk and a few loud claps, a man with orange pants and a brightly colored sweater takes the audience back to the innocence of childhood as the play opens on a young boy and a magical peach.
14th Grade Players presented Richard George’s play adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” this past weekend in West Hall Theater. The production, directed by senior Steve Isaac, premiered Thursday and lasted through the weekend.
Exploring such themes as sacrifice and friendship, “James and the Giant Peach” introduces James, an orphaned boy who escapes the torment of his evil aunts in a magical peach with a motley crew of enlarged insects.
“Steve’s really cool with letting us integrate ourselves into the characters, so I got to keep that and that was my favorite part of playing the Ladybug,” freshman Gina Michele DePalo said.
To freshman Seunglee “Victory” Kim, who played Glowworm, his favorite part was meeting everyone and being able to see the “bubblier side of people, because this is a really funny play.” The enthusiasm that the actors brought to the stage clearly showed that there was a lot of commitment and hard work put into the production.
“We had rehearsal everyday for like two hours and then it gets to be more commitment hours as it gets closer to the show,” said freshman Ro Kalonaros, who played Spider and the mother.
DePalo never considered the commitment a hassle because “we love doing it.”
It wasn’t just the time commitment that the production had to deal with. The actors had to adapt to an entirely new space. The West Hall Theater was only installed this year as part of Mount Vernon Campus’s new dorm.
“‘James and the Giant Peach’ is the first full-length theatrical performance in the space,” senior Steven “Svenn” Miller, president of the Student Theatre Council, said.
To sophomore Lizzy Marmon, artistic director of 14th, the performance was the “right show to take the stage.”
Freshman Andy Brown, who played Earthworm, said he liked the space because “it’s big and new” and “no one is really far away.” Kalanaros and DePalo said it was convenient because they both live in West Hall.
There were only a couple of difficulties, Marmon said.
“The floor could not be painted like the other stages and the lighting reflected off of the floor,” she said. “Also, it was hard for people to get to the show on time because it was on the Vern.”
But the time commitment and the new space didn’t take away from what organizations like 14th have to offer – a great performance and a genuine community for student performers.
“The GW theater community is really intimate, and so this allowed us to really meet a lot of people and get part of that community at such a big school, so it’s really been worth it,” DePalo said.