Let's face it: Cinderella got off easy. After his parents die in a horrible accident, poor James Trotter, the titular character of Roald Dahl's controversial classic James and the Giant Peach, is sent — as such orphans almost always are — to live with the most unrelentingly evil members of his surviving family. His aunts, a self-absorbed glutton and a raging harpie, won't let him go to school or play with other children, and he is forced to spend his days cleaning, his evenings chopping wood, and his nights locked in the basement with nothing to sleep on but a cold stone floor. It's a story that, in spite of its magical elements, is grounded in real-world conflicts: Good people squabble among themselves, indecision reigns, bad relationships happen, and so does violence. Unsurprisingly, Dahl's dark-edged but ultimately redemptive fantasy about a little boy, a grasshopper, a spider, some worms, and a ladybug defending their giant, peachy home from sharks, hail, frying pans, and cloud men as they travel across the Atlantic Ocean to New York has been challenged and banned for reasons ranging from its use of the word "ass" to allegations that the story's magical characters and talking bugs will encourage kids to take drugs. All the more reason to support the people who support literacy, right?
Germantown Community Theatre's production of James and the Giant Peach opens this weekend and runs July 29th through August 7th. There is a special sneak preview on Thursday, July 28th, benefiting Literacy Mid-South, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote both literacy and learning. Events kick off at 6:30 p.m. with peach-flavored refreshments and free copies of James and the Giant Peach for the kids. So, if you like the author who gave us sophisticated children's fables such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox and want to support literacy in Memphis, now would be the time to bite. Peaches are in season, after all.
"James and the Giant Peach" at Germantown Community Theatre through August 7th. A Peach-Tastic fund-raiser for Literacy Mid-South is on Thursday, July 28th.
Call 937-3023 for tickets and information.