BWW Interviews: JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH's Company Hopes to Bring Magic to the Stage
The Department of Theatre at Michigan State University is excited to bring the magic of James and The Giant Peach to life. The show is magical experience for all ages to enjoy.
Special visiting guest director, Edward Daranyi, is excited to come back for a second year and direct the show. He previously has extensive credits with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and through those, he has done a lot of work with children, which gave him the idea to use a child actor in the production. “Children are savvy and the one thing they provide in an experience like this is that by having one on stage, it draws them in and makes the experience about them, rather than older actors trying to play kids,” says Daranyi.
This is how he came up with the idea of having a child actor play James in the beginning of the show before he enters the peach and then Eric Eilersen, student at Michigan State, take over the role. “Eric is a phenomenal young actor who has a natural grasp of text in the classical class I taught and he was far above the class. He’s such a good actor,” says Daranyi, “and the type of person that can hold you riveted by the simplest of tales.”
Eilersen, from Almont, is a senior acting major at the university and is having the time of his life in the show. “I can safely say this is the most fun I have had working on a show,” he says. “Our director, Edward, is an absolute genius, we have a great ensemble show with no ego, and it’s very much a collaborative work.” He also is enjoying working with Logan, the child actor playing his character in the beginning. “He’s a great young actor and I feel like there is twice the amount of brain power going into James,” he says.
The show for Eilersen has been very physically demanding, especially since he is playing a kid. “I had to reach back and remember mannerisms,” he says. “Having Logan present and observing him in rehearsal has been really useful because he is literally doing those things in front of me because he is that age.” Eilersen get to be crazy and fun like a little kid in the show with a lot of jumping and running around.
“We have a great team of students working both on the stage and off to try and take a straight on traditional approach to the play to where we are trying to do the book honor,” says Daranyi. He has used the team to incorporate as much technology and innovation into the show including animation and projection that will be used through out the show. “We are trying to make sure we are honoring the idea of magic and anything is possible as our theme,” he says, “and that people of all ages will be entertained.” And Eilersen agrees with Daranyi’s idea of magic within the show. “There is a certain type of magic that is in a children’s book, but it stands for any kind of generation,” he says, “because everyone has believed in magic at some point in their lives.”
James and The Giant Peach opened October 12th and runs through October 21st at Pasant Theatre at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in East Lansing. For more information or tickets, visit theatre.msu.edu.