Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts will be transforming into a hilltop in England this week for the Overlook Theatre Company’s performance of “James and the Giant Peach.” An original and favorite literary masterpiece of Roald Dahl, the Overlook Theatre Company will be transforming the tale into a magical puppet adventure on the Smoky Mountain Center stage.
The production is brought to life by 25 cast members, several of which whom work together in pairs to bring the larger than life characters to the stage. The cast members are complemented by 10 crew members that help transcend the audience into the England town.
The cast and crew have been working on the show for about three weeks and have constructed each puppet entirely from scratch just for the show.
“The puppets are used to tell the entire story,” said Corbin. “Some of them are six feet tall. They are all ‘walk about’ puppets that look like humans and giant bugs.”
Corbin said the show is unique and something a lot of patrons wouldn’t expect from an Overlook production.
“It is a very different show in the sense that there are very few visible humans onstage,” he said. “It will be great to see the reaction of the kids to the giant puppets that magically come to life in the story.”
While the audience will see the puppets on stage, the voices behind the puppets will be behind the scenes.
“We actually have two casts for this show – one a puppet performance cast (some puppets take two or three people to operate) and a voice cast,” said Corbin. “Sometimes the performers operating a puppet aren’t even doing the voice, so it takes a lot of concentration and coordination.”
While the way Overlook is bringing the play to the stage is different and unexpected, Corbin said the storyline will be the same as the ever popular Dahl classic. “This is a classic story written by Roald Dahl who you might also know from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Matilda,’ said Corbin. “As with his other stories, ‘James and the Giant Peach’ is about a child who is not in the best of situations and how his dreams carry him away to a place most would believe unachievable.”
The story is about a lonely, orphaned boy named James living with his two horrible and nasty aunts in a ramshackle house on the top of a high hill in the south of England. His aunts make James do all the cleaning and never let him away from the house to meet other children or make friends. But James’ luck starts to change when he meets a mysterious old man who hands him a magical gift. That gift will change his life and introduce James to some of the most unusual friends a young boy could ever have, leading to the most fantastical adventure one could only imagine. Told through the magic of puppetry, eye-popping special effects and filled with lots of laughs, this classic story will delight every dreamer of every age. The show is approximately one hour in length.
The show is scheduled for March 2 and 3 at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online at greatmountainmusic.com or at the performing arts center box office or call (866) 273-4615.