Audiences can enjoy a laugh this weekend, when Northridge Middle School thespians will present Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” at Northridge High School.
Forty-five students will sing and dance in an array of hundreds of costumes in addition to an 8-foot giant peach that will accommodate several performers.
“People will just love this music,” said Jen Ulery, play co-director. “The ending song, ‘Welcome Home,’ is an upbeat Gospel-style song that makes you just want to watch the show all over again.”
Co-director Jody Hepp said she and Ulery picked the musical because it had enough parts for their extraordinary body of talent.
Lead roles include Ty Bartlett as James, Layne Mercer as Grasshopper, Tyler Martin as Ladahlord the narrator, Hailey Carbaugh as Ladybug, Sarah Taylor as Spider, Noah Thompson as Centipede, Brayden Donohue as Earthworm, Grace Dann as Spiker and Molly Brannigan as Sponge.
In addition to the chorus, 20 students are part of the stage crew.
The story is about an orphaned British boy, James, who happens to have magical powers to turn bugs into humans.
Those magical powers end up changing a peach, and together James and the now-giant peach take a wild adventure across the Atlantic Ocean and end up in New York City, escaping James’ two nasty aunts.
The students have been rehearsing the show for about three months, alongside their directors and some high school students who are serving as mentors.
Bartlett said the part of James has stretched his acting abilities.
“I have to be a lot sadder than I actually ever am as a person,” he said.
Brannigan, who has to maneuver a fat suit around stage, said playing the evil aunt has been a blast.
“I have to yell in Ty’s face, which at first was really hard to do without laughing,” she said.
Her counterpart, Dann, said, “People will leave this show, talking about how fun the songs are and just probably still laughing about how funny the performance is in general.”
“This is an amazing opportunity for our kids and for our community,” Ulery said. “We are one of the only totally middle school musicals around this area. For our middle schoolers to put on a show that’s entirely their own -- that’s phenomenal.”
Martin, the narrator, said he knows the opportunity is a privilege.
“I love music in general,” he said. “Getting to experience it like this every day with my friends is so fun.”
Tickets are available in the high school office or by calling the office at 740-967-6651.
The cost is $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17 and 18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, at the high school, 6066 Johnstown-Utica Road.