"James and the Giant Peach" opens at 7 p.m. at Highland High School.
If you go
◆ “James and the Giant Peach”
◆ 7 p.m. Feb. 22-23
◆ Highland High School, Monbeck Auditorium, 9135 Erie St.
◆ Tickets: $8 adults, $6 students and senior citizens; available at the door
◆ Information: 922-5610
Involvement in a theater group has proven beneficial for more than two dozen Highland High School students.
As they prepare for their upcoming play, “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl, they are working on their first show that includes both children and adults as their primary audience.
They also are meeting other challenges.
“The set building and tech (lighting and sound design, special effects) for this show are challenging for a small group,” said Molly Arroyo, play director and theater teacher. “Also, trying to rehearse during class and after school for a full-length production, around the constraints of a performance space used by so many other school and outside groups, is tough.”
But the group of 25 to 30 students persevered.
Arroyo said this will be the advanced theater class’ first full-length children’s production. “I have lots of ‘characters’ in the class and really felt I had the perfect cast to do it.”
The story follows a young boy named James, who lives with his aunts after both his parents are trampled by a herd of rhinoceroses. One day, James and his aunts discover a giant peach growing in the yard. The story follows the adventures of James and the characters he meets who are living inside the peach.
Sophomore Kevin Colon, 16, will portray James Trotter.
“The most challenging part of performing is memorizing lines,” he said. “But I’m learning to never be afraid to express myself and be who I am.”
Castmate Courtney Szymborski, 17, will appear on stage as the Earthworm. Behaving in a pessimistic manner is her biggest challenge.
“It’s much different than the optimistic nature I do have,” the junior said. “Also, because I play a worm, I am not able to use my arms to react with — so I must strictly use facial expressions which I’ve never had to do before.”
The role of a centipede will be played by junior Alyssa Morgan, 16.
“Theater gives me the outlet to express myself without being judged,” she said. “Everyone accepts you and it’s one of the most beautiful experiences someone could have.
“I also love to be silly and this play gives me that opportunity,” she added.
Junior Karrie Sacketos, 17, will act as Aunt Sponge. “My dream has always been to entertain — whether it is through acting or singing. Theater just gives me the experience I need to make a career out of it.”
The role of The Narrator will be filled by senior Mike Blejski, 18, who said he’s been hooked on theater since he was in eighth grade.
“I have tried out for every production I could, and I will continue after high school,” he said.