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Review by Kathy Carpenter

July 4, 2021 (Spring Valley) - Slowly, we are returning to a semi-normal lifestyle--one that includes live theatre. Musicals. As such, the Young Actors Theater in Casa De Oro presents "James and the Giant Peach." You may remember the book from your childhood, written by Roald Dahl, who also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

"Marvelous, wonderful things can come true, in the middle of a moment..."  What a beautiful thought. It comes from the song Middle of a Moment, sung by James. Life is nothing but moments. Moments we can fill with things that make us and others happy.

Nothing makes actors happier than to look out from the stage and find a full audience. Opening night was a good showing but we need to fill the house. Bring theatre back to life.

James and the Giant Peach is the journey of one orphan boy who goes on an adventure with a ladybug, spider, grasshopper, earthworm and centipede, only to find out the real meaning of family.

Director and choreographer Joe Dionisio had to fight for his own moments to make the show come to life. The show was all set to go when we went into lockdown last year. Fifteen months later, it's finally happening.

On the official first night back on stage after all that time, I'm sure there were a lot of nerves happening up on stage. The kids are troopers; nerves didn't really show. Maybe a few rushed lines and some dialogue you couldn't quite hear, but nothing major. The acting was on point, the actors’ English accents extremely well done. The humor was there as the audience attested, with laughter sprinkled throughout. It’s a cute show, welcoming us back to the theatre.

For this show, these junior and high school students were actors who sang. I'm sure individual singing voices will shine with practice. But as a whole, they were a little rusty.coming together to sing.

Macie Lowery played James, just eleven years old and shining in her moment.! Two-year old Candace Grosch was a narrator of sorts, and a real alent. Joanna Demaree and Elizabeth Morales play Jame's aunts, the villains of the piece, adding their own flair of humor. Playing the oh so cute and funny bugs are Jackson Yakos, as Grasshopper, Paolo Bahro, as Earthworm, Sunny Busby, as Spider, Darlene Shockley, as Ladybug, and William Lanham ,as Centipede. The cast rounds out with Lalo Villodas, Isabella Cable, Ivy Kwasny.Victoria Borum, and Ivy Cienfuegos.

My favorite song was "Plump and Juicy," from the second act--the epitome of cuteness. Twenty songs in the show. So great to have a musical to come out and watch again.

Keeping things safe, masks must still be worn inside the theatre, but we are getting there.

"Stuck in the middle of a moment that's halfway to somewhere new." A perfect fit where our lives are now.

James and the Giant Peach, July 7 - 10, 2021 at Encore Theatre, Spring Valley. www.yatsandiego.org.


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