LEICESTER, Mass. — In April, students at Leicester Middle School will perform "James and The Giant Peach", with the cast of young actors working together to bring Roald Dahl's classic story to life on stage.
The play tells the tale of a young boy who takes flight from his cruel aunts in an enchanted peach and goes on an adventure with a rag tag band of literal outsiders — a centipede, ladybug, spider, worm and grasshopper.
"The theme of overcoming difficulties and challenges is a good one for middle-schoolers — how James bands together with the team of insects and how we need others when we face obstacles," said Kelly Hunter, director of the play and STEP teacher at Leicester Middle School.
Hunter was at the helm of last year's middle school production of "The Phantom Tollbooth," and some members of that cast are returning as well.
The lead of James will be played by Ethan Spaulding, with his cruel aunts Spiker and Sponge to be played by Samantha Dubey and Emily Hastings, respectively.
Additionally, the role of the centipede will be played by Sara Moore, with Chris Porcaro narrating the performance.
Though some players have had past experience in drama, Hunter said the cast also has first-time performers and new sixth-graders. Hunter hopes all the students will learn how to face the difficulties that comes with performing.
"I'd like them to reach deep into that confidence level, in order to speak out loud," she said. "Many of them don't like that feeling right now."
While Hunter said she had some wanting to quit the play because of this, she said she wanted them to stick with it.
Just as in the play, where James learns to overcome his difficult childhood, "banding together with others and using teamwork to make the journey easier," Hunter hoped to see the kids work together to overcome their own fears.
In the past weeks, she said she has seen the group getting to know each other, especially the new students.
"They were all very excited about joining drama, because as fifth-graders they got to see the middle school play," she said. "I hope to keep building this excitement and motivation to take part in drama."
The play will be performed at 6 p.m. April 5-6 at Leicester Middle School. Tickets will be on sale in advance at the school office.