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A peach of a show

James (center) played by Harry Greathouse, talks to his insect friends, played by Brody Uhlenkamp (left) and Ari Janssen (right). (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)1 / 2
James’ two aunts, Spiker (center), played by Brooke Houska, and Sponge (right), played by Emily Kaatz, steal from a little girl played by Sailor Peterson (left) during one of the show’s musical numbers. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)2 / 2

If you’re a fan of any genre of music, “James and the Giant Peach” may be the show for you.

The youth musical opens Friday, Jan. 20 at the Alexandria Area Arts Association, and director David Christman says it covers an impressive array of music.

“The music is wonderful,” he said. “I’ve never heard music like this in any show. There’s something for everybody, from swing music to Caribbean music.”

“James and the Giant Peach” is the story of James, an orphaned boy with a big imagination. He is forced to live with his two aunts, who send him to chop down their fruit tree. While doing so, James discovers a potion that grows a gigantic peach. This begins an adventure, during which he meets new friends and they overcome obstacles together.

“It’s a search for hope and truth and family through the adventures that they have while inside the peach – floating in the ocean, then flying in the sky, then tumbling down on top of New York City,” Christman said. “All this while he’s pursued by his two aunts that have inherited him. They want him to be their slave and do all the work around the house.”

The show’s cast is comprised solely of youths, ranging in age from 8 years old to 18 years old. Ninth-grade Bianca Wegner says the variety of musical genres keep the show intriguing.

“There’s definitely genres in this play that I haven't really experienced before,” she said. “The song Plump and Juicy is something I never really heard before, and it reminds me of a salsa type of thing. I think it’s really interesting.”

Wegner plays numerous characters throughout the show. As such, she has had to learn choreography for numerous songs and also has a few singing lines. Throughout rehearsals, she has developed a favorite among the musical numbers.

“My favorite song is Floating Along,” she said. “It’s just the insects singing and makes you kind of want to bounce along in your seat. It’s really fun."

Though the students enjoy the acting and singing aspects of the play, Christman says it’s about more than that.

“In the program here we try to teach them that it’s more than just performing,” he said. “It’s about how does the show get put together, how we sell tickets, how we market the show. The students are responsible for telling as many people as they can about the production to make sure people not only are coming because they know them, but because they want to come.”

As opening night approaches, Christman says the cast is working to fine tune the show and the musical numbers. After the work they’ve put in, they are looking forward to performing for an audience.

“What I love about them (kids) is they just continue to work,” he said. “They don’t give up. They work harder than adults work. They’re like sponges and they can just keep going and going and going. … They want to do the best they can and they want the audience to be happy with what they do.”

Youth Musical: James and the Giant Peach When:  Friday, Jan 20 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan 22 at 2 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m.Where: The Alexandria Area Arts AssociationCost: $18 Adults, $15 Students/Seniors, $15 Members,
$15 Group, $10 Children. To buy tickets, stop in at the box office or visit more information, call the AAAA box office at (320) 762-8300 or email DudleyHarry GreathouseAri JanssenBrody UhlenkampBella GreathouseNick NelsonNeko GlaserBrooke HouskaEmily KaatzRegan PetersonMyra NelsonSam FaberLily HeidelbergerIrene McDanielsAshley DonleyLauren HeseltineAlyssa KlassenChloe RoedJeryn DrewesMaxwell JostBianca WegnerBeth OddenParker ZwachWilliam ZwachSailor PetersonAvery SinningJorja Novak Abigail NelsonRachel BowenSofia WrayElena FuglestadEmily StaplesDillon BockAllie TrombleyAbby FaberCatie NeumannCrew:David ChristmanHolly WallerichAilee VelazquezQuincy RoersAlyssa PetefishLindsey AnnHilary NinmanKaty NiemeyerMeagan LindbergMaria WarholKayla NobleAnn HermesKatie Satterlie
Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233