Just a few weeks after a record-breaking run of YES Theatre's production of "Mamma Mia," the cast of Sudbury locals is returning to the stage in their tenth-anniversary performance of "James the Giant Peach."
This family friendly show is based on the 1996 children's novel by Roald Dahl and complimented with a score by Grammy, Oscar, and Tony-winning composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who are known for their work on "The Greatest Showman" and "La La Land."
Supported by a live eight-piece band and team of nine seasoned actors, this fun-filled performance will be one of YES Theatre's biggest productions to date.
"James" is the story of a young boy, fittingly named James, who is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down his family's old fruit tree, and finds a magic potion that results in one very large peach. Suddenly, James finds himself on an epic adventure alongside human-sized insects, with equally oversized personalities, who through trials and tribulations learn the importance of family.
The composers of this play have worked it to be as flashy, brilliant and heartfelt as it can be - every single second, said Jake Deeth, who will be making his directorial debut with this production. Coupled with the travelling circus theme introduced by himself and designer Bandon Kleiman, and the novel's Engish wit, Deeth said he expects this to be a performance the whole family will enjoy.
Similar to movies such as the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," Deeth said the production includes a number of jokes for adults, conveyed in subtle body language or the delivery of a line.
"If it can make me laugh after seeing it maybe 100 times, I am sure people will lose their mind over it," he said.
It was his love of the musical and it's concept of found-family, that Deeth said inspired him to select the production for his directorial debut. Alongside "Mamma Mia," this contributes to an overall theme of family he said, which is the perfect way to commemorate the theatre company's 10th anniversary.
"He travels, (and) you realize that his evil aunts that take care of him aren't his family. The people that trust him and love him and care for him, those are his family," said Deeth.
The YES Theatre company is described by Deeth as an incredibly close-knit family unit that function on respect for each other and the arts. Despite their close relationship, he said new additions, such as those who made their YES Theatre debut in the production of "Mamma Mia," are welcomed with open arms.
"People want to come and do a YES Theatre show, see a YES Theatre show and continue to work with them, because of this family concept that we kind of live by," said Deeth.
"Sometimes we haven't even had auditions. We've met someone and we've fallen in love with them and like, 'this company is who you need right now, so please come and do a show with us'."
This cast, in particular, is made up of nine company regulars, seven of which were also in the cast of "Mamma Mia" and that productions supporting band. Deeth said this meant well over 12-hour days for these songbirds, who started rehearsals around a month and a half ago when Mamma Mia first took the STC stage.
"Everyone is doing double-duty, it is an insane undertaking," said Deeth.
This should be nothing new for Deeth, who said he has contributed to a YES Theatre production every summer as either cast or crew for the past nine years, despite moving to Toronto in 2013. Recently named associate artistic director alongside his friend and former classmate, Alessandro Costantini, the company's founder and artistic director, Deeth said he can't imagine a time he wouldn't return for a summer performance.
"I feel like I've made my most artistic strides in this community so being able to come back and do a show like 'James and the Giant Peach', especially on our 10-year anniversary, and for that to be my directorial debut — it's incredibly humbling and it excites me to no end," he said.
"James and the Giant Peach" is ont stage at the Sudbury Theatre Centre from Aug. 15-31.
Tickets are available at YESTheatre.com (http://www.yestheatre.com/), in person at One Sky (125 Durham St.) and by phone at 705-929-9292 on Tuesday and Friday, 12-5 p.m., and at 1-844-307-7469 Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Jake Deeth - director
- Janie Pinard - choreographer
- Brandon Klieman - set design, costume design
- Stephan Ermel - musical director, sound designer
- Crystal Lee Chettiar - production manager, technical director
- Rebecca Durrocher - association production manager
- Matteo Desimone - head sound/ mix engineer
- Tim Stenabaugh - lighting design
- Cora Eckert - head of props/ paint
- Morgan Cook - stage manager
- Alessandro Costantini - artistic director
- Sidney Cassidy - James
- Jessica Crowe - Ladahlord
- Ruthie Nkut - Lady Bug and others
- Alex Panneton - Grasshopper and others
- April Perrin - Aunt Sponge and others
- Janie Pinard - Aunt Spiker and others
- Nathan Scruton - Earthworm and others
- Kelsey Tyson - Centipede and others
- Katie Wise - Spider and others