Some of our cast - click on the photo for more information
Kerry Girdwood and Polly Pyefinch peruse the auditionees
With a spider, a caterpillar, a ladybird, a worm and a grasshopper ‘James and the Giant Peach promises to be a fun, colourful children’s play. There’s quite a collection of creatures. When I sat with Director Polly Pyefinch and Kerry Girdwood while they pondered the large number of talented young actors who auditioned over the past week I discovered that there are many more creatures who will be singing and dancing onstage in this production . It’s a big cast- thirty in total. One of the really nice things I discovered was that there are some mothers who will be acting together with their children so it will be a fun experience that they can share. Director Polly has a big job ahead of her but no doubt she will be ably assisted by the octopus, the jellyfish and the sharks keeping everyone in order. Rehearsals begin next week...full steam ahead for a fun children’s production, Anniversary Weekend 19th -23rd January, 2023.
Aimee and Phoebe Holloway - Aunt Sponge and TV Reporter
Aimee and Phoebe Holloway, mother and daughter are ‘ newbies’ to Repertory Theatre but aren’t new to acting. Mother Aimee, who is rehearsing the role of mean Aunt Sponge in ‘ James and the Giant Peach ‘, enjoyed drama in high school and played the part of the Queen in the pantomime ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ‘ when she lived in Te Puke. Daughter Phoebe was in the same production playing the part of ‘Happy Dwarf’. Phoebe plays the part of the television reporter in ‘James and the Giant Peach ‘ while her brother Nate Holloway is also in the cast as the second officer on the naval ship that comes across James’ Peach floating across the Atlantic Ocean. Aimee ,Phoebe and Nate work together at home too as Aimee, a teacher by profession teaches her children at home. “ Our family was moving around a lot so we decided it would be better, more consistent for the children to be home schooled,” Aimee said. As well as their involvement with Repertory Theatre the Holloway family belong to the Potters’ Society. “ We enjoy all of the arts”, Aimee said . Are they enjoying rehearsing ‘ James and the Giant Peach ‘ ? “ Oh yes”, Phoebe and Aimee smiled. Big smiles!
Rachel and Meagan Keay - Narrator and Mrs Trotter
Rachel and Meagan Keay make up another delightful mother/ daughter duo rehearsing ‘ James and the Giant Peach ‘ at Repertory Theatre. Mother Rachel plays the part of James ‘ mother which is pretty brave of her as James ‘ mother experiences some really scary situations. Daughter Meagan has the pivotal role of the narrator, telling the story as it unfolds. Having watched this young lady in rehearsals I think that she’s ideal for that role as her speech is so clear, well enunciated. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she’d achieved successes in inter school speech competitions. This busy lass also enjoys several sports including tennis , hockey, soccer and athletics. Rachel’s a busy person too with wide ranging interests which include house renovations, gardening and caring for her lifestyle block. Both Rachel and Meagan are new members of Repertory Theatre but have had earlier theatre experiences in school. Although they’re having fun onstage they’re happy to help out backstage too which is great as we’ll need all hands on deck for ‘James and the Giant Peach ‘!
Mark and Elizabeth Morton - Aunt Spiker and Old Green Grasshopper
Mark Morton says that it doesn’t seem like a whole year since he and his daughter Elizabeth took part in their first children’s production at Repertory Theatre. “ Here we go again! This time it seems like we’re old hands”, Mark grinned. “Elizabeth is playing the part of the Grasshopper and I’m playing the part of Aunt Spiker. Some would say that alone is worth the price of a ticket “, Mark laughed. “We’ve got some great parent-child combos this year and some new and some experienced children playing an assortment of roles. This is shaping up to be a very professional production of ‘James and the Giant Peach ‘, he said. Please come and support your local theatre as it may not be around forever. If you enjoy music, dance and good old fashioned fun with the dreadful aunts ,this is for you. Come and say hello and let us entertain you, enjoy what is probably the best cup of tea in town during the half time break served by our fabulous team of volunteers. What’s not to like about that? You can also sponsor your choice of actors in the show by getting in touch via our website and expressing your interest. You’d make a child’s day!
Chloe Burns, Indigo Cranston and Lacie Williams - Seagulls
I had the pleasure of chatting with three young ladies during rehearsals for ‘James and the Giant Peach ‘ at Repertory Theatre this weekend. Aged between nine and twelve years old they’ve not had a lot of theatre experience but are having fun as they learn. Chloe Burn, the oldest of the three has been involved in the Amdram Holiday Programme and had a part in ‘Annie’ . In ‘James and the Giant Peach ‘ Chloe plays the part of a seagull and she’s also playing the part of one of the children in the crowd. Her sister Elodie is the centipede, one of the insects in the giant peach. Indigo Cranston, another seagull, also doubles as a fish. Has she had any previous theatre experience? “ Well, at school we do Showtime when each class puts on a play for the other classes but that’s all”, she said. Seagull Number Three is Lacie Williams. Like Indigo she’s had fun in school plays but not been involved in plays for the general public. Is she enjoying being part of the production, making new friends from other schools? “ Oh yes!” When she’s not playing the part of a seagull Lacie plays the part of a jellyfish. All three lasses enjoy painting and playing with their pets when they’re not at The Rep rehearsing their parts in ‘James and the Giant ‘. They all seem to be having enormous fun onstage which made it really fun watching the rehearsal...they had me clapping in time to their singing and dancing . The generous sponsorship from Hatrick’s Raceway has helped defray some of the production costs making it easier for these children to have the fun of being part of a theatrical production where they’re learning new skills and making new friends. Thanks Hatrick’s Raceway.
Ethan Hall and Nate Holloway - Shark and Second Mate
“ Do you know the giant Chocolate Eclair Shop In Ohakune? Well, when I was at Ohakune Primary School we did ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Eclair Shop’ and I was in that”, thirteen year old Nate Holloway told me. Nate’s family moved to Whanganui recently so he’s enjoying making new friends at Repertory Theatre while rehearsing his part in ‘James and the Giant Peach ‘. His mother,Aimee, is playing the part of ‘Aunt Sponge’ while his older sister, Phoebe, is the television reporter. Nate is playing the part of the second mate on the navy ship which sights the Giant Peach in the ocean. Does the ship’s crew rescue James and his friends? “ No, they’re scared of the Peach and run away”, Nate grinned. Nine year old Ethan Hall is having fun onstage. What part does he play? “ Oh, I’m lots of things ,” he enthused. “I’m a shark and a rhinoceros and I’m in the crowd scenes.” When he’s not at Rep rehearsing he enjoys playing with his pet cats and he’s really enthusiastic about playing his favourite sport, hockey. It’s the first time these two charming chaps have appeared onstage at Rep Theatre. I must say that we are so lucky to attract such lovely children eager to take part in our children’s productions. Do come along and see them on Whanganui’s Anniversary Weekend. Believe me, you’ve never seen such a handsome second mate or such an appealing rhinoceros.
Finlay and Ivy May Barrett - Earthworm and Seagull
Finlay Barrett plays the Earthworm in Repertory Theatre’s January production of ‘James and the Giant Peach‘ while his younger sister, Ivy May, plays the part of a seagull. “ All of my family are interested in theatre “, he told me. Is Earthworm a cheerful chap? “ Oh no, not at all. He’s pretty grumpy most of the time and he’s jealous too.” Jealous? Of whom and why? “ Well, he’s jealous of the centipede because the centipede has got lots of legs and Earthworm hasn’t got any.” Nevertheless, I asked Finlay if he was having fun being a grumpy Earthworm. “ Yes I’m enjoying it . We do lots of dances but it’s challenging too.” In what way is it challenging? “Well I have to spend a lot of time on the floor,” he answered. It’s Finlay’s second show at Repertory Theatre. “I was in ‘Fantastic Mr Fox back in January. I was a weasel then”, he grinned. I suggested that he must have enjoyed being in Fantastic Mr Fox because he’s come back again. ”Oh yes! I like it here. I like it here a lot!”
Eloise Gordon - The Little Ladybird
Meet our delightful little Ladybird, Eloise Gordon, aged nine , who shares an amazing adventure with James and other friends aboard a giant Peach as it sails across the Atlantic Ocean. I asked her what the Ladybird was like. "Oh, she’s fancy! She has stuff the others don’t have, like a handbag and comb and stuff like that. She’s different to the others. Well, they’re all different really. They all have their own personalities. She wants to stay away from the sea for the rest of her life too.” Why? “Well, she wants to keep away from the sharks. She’s scared of them “. What would a Ladybird have to do with sharks? “They were after the Giant Peach when she was on it!” Well, I guess her aversion to sharks is understandable then. Eloise has only been in one theatrical production before when her school, Faith City, produced ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ‘. I suggested that she must have enjoyed it to have come along for this play. My reward? A delightful smile and an enthusiastic “Oh yes!”
Elodie Burn - The Centipede
Elodie Burn has big boots to fill. She’s playing the part of the Centipede in The Rep’s upcoming production of ‘James and the Giant Peach‘ and she told me that Centipede really thinks he’s superior. “He’s very proud of his boots“, she said, ”and he’s always arguing with the others, especially the Earthworm who has no legs or boots. The other characters put him in his place though, especially the old grasshopper.” What attracted Elodie to become involved in theatre? “When I was about eight I was taken to see ‘Matilda, the Musical‘ in Auckland and that inspired me to become involved.“ Elodie said. She’s done well too, in her four years of speech and drama lessons, Elodie has earned a first place and has been highly commended in the speech and drama competitions in Palmerston North and Te Awamutu. She’s been nominated for the ‘Drammies’ as well. No doubt her successes in drama competitions will stand her in good stead as she tries to deal with the disparate creatures aboard the Giant Peach. Come along to Repertory Theatre in January and enjoy this amusing tale with laughs aplenty for young and old. ‘James and the Giant Peach‘ onstage at Repertory Theatre 19th-23rd January, 2023. Morning performances: 11.00 a.m. 21, 22, 23 January. Evening performances 6.00 p.m. 19, 20, 21, 22 January.
Lulu Dufty - Miss Spider
Lulu Dufty is enjoying her role in James and the Giant Peach, playing the part of Spider, spinning her silken threads as she sails across the ocean with James and her other friends. “She’s kind of like the mother of the group. She looks after James and the other creatures on the peach,” Lulu says. Lulu has been in other stage productions before. Hong Kong-born Lulu was in a school production of Annie when she attended a bilingual school in Shanghai and yes, she does speak Chinese Mandarin. “I’m forgetting it a lot now because I’m not using it,” she says. She also played the lead role of Annie in St Anne’s school production of Annie Jr at the Royal Whanganui Opera House in September. Lulu is doing well in New Zealand. She won her school speech competition and won the speech competition for Catholic Schools in the Whanganui Area. Lulu also won honours in her speech exams. She’s certainly an accomplished little lady so come along and see her being Miss Spider in James and the Giant Peach, opening at Repertory on January 19 at 6pm.