So, you want to know more about Homestead’s fall show James and the Giant Peach? Look no further!!
James is the main character of the story. Initially, he lives with his mother and father in a house by the sea, until they are killed by a rhinoceros that had escaped from the London Zoo. After the death of his parents, James moves in with his two aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, who are very cruel to him.
Yet in a promising turn of events, James meets an Old Man who gives him magic green pellets and tells James that if he follows a special set of instructions, something wonderful will happen to him. Unfortunately, James trips when walking them back into the house, and the magical green objects are rapidly absorbed by the ground. Something wonderful starts happening to the old peach tree in the garden, however, and a giant peach grows and grows and grows.
One night, James sneaks out of the house to see the peach and notices a small entrance into the gigantic fruit. He climbs through this tunnel and meets an odd assortment of huge, talking, quarreling creatures: a Centipede, Earthworm, Spider, Grasshopper, Glow-worm, Ladybug, and Silkworm. With James in their company, these creatures free the peach from the tree and set it rolling through the English countryside, ending its journey in the Atlantic Ocean. In the adventures that follow, James repeatedly devises plans that save him and his companions from peril.
Narrators tell the story when we cannot show through action. There are three who will tell our story, watching the action with the audience as they guide them.
Centipede is one of James’ friends on the peach. James is initially scared of Centipede (and of all the peach’s other inhabitants) but soon learns to like this gigantic, wisecracking creature. Centipede has 42 legs, is very particular about his boots, and is in the habit of telling stories through songs (which often are often reproduced at the end of Dahl’s chapters). Despite the charming elements of his joking, outspoken personality, Centipede’s outlandish personality sometimes gets him into trouble.
Earthworm Long, blind, and very self-defensive, Earthworm is the most pessimistic of the peach passengers, and he frequently quarrels with the high-spirited Centipede. Earthworm repeatedly points out that the peach is doomed and that its passengers are surely soon to die. He is also critical of some of James’s plans; in fact, he is used as “bait” for James’s successful seagull scheme, though he has the fortune to emerge unscathed.
Despite his grim nature, Earthworm is proud of his species. After all, earthworms are essential in gardening, since they consume massive amounts of soil and make the ground more fertile in the process.
Grasshopper is wise and cultured, and he serves as a moderating force amongst the peach passengers. Even when disputes erupt between Centipede and Earthworm, Old-Green-Grasshopper manages to remain levelheaded. Whenever James tries to solve the problems that the group faces, Old-Green-Grasshopper is a stable figure who proves willing to help James with whatever he needs.
This venerable “short-horned” grasshopper is also a talented musician who surprises James with his abilities; he is able to use his own body as an instrument, producing rich melodies that call to mind the sound of a violin. At the conclusion of Dahl’s novel, the Old-Green-Grasshopper becomes a member of the New York Symphony Orchestra, where his playing earns great admiration.
Ladybug Proud of her status and her nine spots (a number that makes her superior to two- and five-spotted ladybugs, at least in her own eyes), Ladybug is a kind and friendly female passenger. She often comforts James and encourages him, building his confidence and offering assistance whenever the group faces an obstacle. She is even a member of a species that is prized for its service to humans; ladybugs, as it turns out, eat crop-destroying pests and are thus welcomed by farmers and gardeners. At the end of the novel, she settles down and marries the Head of the Fire Department of New York City.
Spider Despite her scary appearance (and her status as an animal that many humans misunderstand), Miss Spider is incredibly kind and acts as a caring mother figure towards James. She is responsible for spinning the hammock-like beds for all of the passengers of the peach, and her skillful spinning is very useful later in the novel. In particular, Miss Spider’s skills are essential in the peach’s escape from danger; at sea, she spins the strands of rope that James needs for his daring seagull scheme.
Glow-worm provides the light for the interior of the peach. (She is not, in fact, a worm, but a female firefly without wings, as Centipede explains.) While Glow-worm does not speak often in the play, she is very sweet and has a bit of a temper when it comes to Centipede. She does take on a very important job after arriving in New York City: she becomes the light inside the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
Silkworm The female Silkworm is by no means the most outspoken passenger on the peach. For the most part, she remains sleepy and inactive, though she does have an incredibly important role in saving the peach from the attacking sharks: here, she spins as much silk as possible for James to wrap around the seagulls’ necks. She saves the day in another instance as well when she spins enough silk for James to jump off of the peach to save Centipede.
Aunt Spiker One of the main antagonists in James and the Giant Peach, Aunt Spiker is one of the cruel aunts whom James lives within the south of England. She is lean and tall and bony, and she is a screeching voice with narrow lips. She spits whenever she speaks, and because of her selfish, greedy personality, she is always yelling at James and punishing him for the littlest things.
Aunt Sponge Just as mean-natured as her companion Aunt Sponge, Aunt Sponge is one of the two cruel aunts whom James lives with, in the south of England. But unlike Aunt Spiker, Aunt Sponge is enormously fat and very short, with small pig-like eyes and a sunken mouth. Like her fellow antagonist Aunt Spiker, she is always yelling at James and punishing him for every mistake that he made.
The Old Man appears in the corner of Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker’s backyard when James is crying after a particularly upsetting altercation with his aunts. Dressed in green and sporting bristles all over his face, this odd fellow presents James with a small white paper bag of tiny, magical green objects; if James follows the Old Man’s strict instructions, he will become a magical and happy boy thanks to the mysterious green items. The Old Man disappears after giving James the bag of magic and does not appear again for the rest of the play.
Mother Trotter James loving mother who is eaten by a rhino
Fother Trotter James loving father who is eaten by a rhino
Zookeeper chases the rhino trying to catch it before it hurts people
Matron Nurse A worker at the orphanage James stays at before moving to his Aunts.
Peach Visitors Reporters, Photographers, the Garden Club, Hollywood Agents all swarm Sponge and Spiker’s house when they sell tickets to see the giant Peach.
OCEAN LINER CHARACTERS see the Giant peach flying through the air. The 1st and 2nd officers think the Captain is crazy.
OCEAN CREATURES consist of sharks, seagulls and cloud-men! These characters will be played by the entire ensemble
NYC CHARACTERS appear at the end of the play when the Peach lands on the Empire State Building, causing panic among the New Yorkers. The Chief of Police and Mayor freak out the most, but we also have a Fireman who will fall in love and marry Ladybug and more characters!