April is blooming at the Historic Iao Theater with five performances of three plays this week, and a fourth, “The Miracle Worker,” in rehearsal for its May opening.
On Saturday afternoon, Maui OnStage presents the slightly dark but immensely original children’s tale, “James and the Giant Peach,” by Roald Dahl. Dahl’s imaginative mind also created “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Witches,” “Matilda,” and the screenplay for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
Published in 1961, the tale centers around English orphan, James Henry Trotter (Carver Glomb), who enters a gigantic, supernatural peach and has a surreal, madcap adventure with six magical garden bugs. Originally titled “James and the Giant Cherry,” Dahl changed it to a giant peach because “a peach is prettier, bigger and squishier than a cherry.”
James’ world is turned upside down when his mother and father are eaten by an escaped rhinoceros, and he is forced to live with his two malicious aunts, Spiker (Lily Janneck) and Sponge (Brianna Kenar). The boy encounters an outlandish old man, who gives him a bag of glowing, green crocodile tongues, promising they will bring him happiness and great adventures. On the way home, he trips and spills the tongues on a peach tree, which had previously never given fruit.
The tree soon begins to blossom, and a peach grows to the size of his house. He befriends the insect inhabitants of the peach, who join him on the adventure. A Centipede (Caitlyn Campbell) bites the peach loose from the tree, which then rolls down the hill and squashes the house, subsequently killing Spiker and Sponge. The peach rolls through villages, over houses and a famous chocolate factory before falling off the Cliffs of Dover, drifting into the vast Atlantic.
Later in the journey, when attacked by sharks, a flock of seagulls lifts the peach into the air, flying it away. A passenger jet nearly hits the peach just outside of New York City, and it ends up impaled on the Empire State Building. The skewered giant fruit is brought down and eaten by thousands of NYC children. The peach pit is constructed into a mansion in Central Park, which becomes a tourist attraction, and the ever-friendly James has all the friends he had longed for.
* Children of all ages will enjoy “James and the Giant Peach,” based on the book by Dahl, dramatized by Richard R. George, with original music by David Delaney, direction by Alexis Dascoulias and starring an all-youth cast. Performances are 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. General admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. Call Maui OnStage at 242-6969 or purchase reserved seats online at www.mauionstage.com.
On Monday night, MOS continues its free theater series, ONO! (one night only), with “Cactus Flower” by Abe Burrows. This swinging ’60s Broadway comedy ran from 1966 to 1969, and its original cast members included Lauren Bacall, Barry Nelson, Brenda Vaccaro, Lloyd Bridges and Kevin McCarthy.
The same year that it closed on Broadway, a film version was released starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and Goldie Hawn (who won an Oscar for her performance). Three years ago, the film was remade by Adam Sandler and partially shot on Maui. Some of those locations include Gannon’s restaurant in Wailea, the Grand Wailea and an East Maui rope bridge, which apparently leads to a waterfall on Kauai in the next scene. “Just Go With It” stars Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Nick Swardson and Brooklyn Decker.
In the original stage version, Julian Winston, DDS (Francis Tau’a) has the perfect life. He’s a 40-something playboy with a thriving business and a young, wild mistress. The problem is he’s not actually married; he pretends to be married to avoid commitment. The truth could fix everything, but then it wouldn’t be a romantic comedy.
Toni (Julianna Scharnhorst), the girlfriend, refuses to be a homewrecker without first meeting Julian’s soon-to-be-ex, so he enlists his long-suffering assistant, Stephanie Dickinson (Erin Kowalick), to pose as his nonexistent wife. Complications arise when Toni decides the two must find her a new beau so everyone concerned can live happily ever after. As the lies pile up, Dr. Winston and all involved find love in unexpected places.
* Enjoy a free staged reading of “Cactus Flower” by Abe Burrows 6:30 p.m. Monday; the free ONO! performances are at the Historic Iao Theater every second Monday of the month.
ALSO THIS WEEK
* Catch Seabury Hall’s production of “Winnie the Pooh,” a musical version based on A. A. Milne’s classic, directed by Marsha Kelly. Performances are 7 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday in the A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Admission is free.