Middle School MTS puts a new twist on an old classic.
“James and the Giant Peach” is a popular novel that has been adapted into movies and plays, as well as many musicals. However, Middle School Musical Director Mr. Patrick Walsh gave the classic a new perspective in this winter’s middle school musical.
Instead of the usual script of the main character, James, being cast as a boy, the director made the decision to cast him as a girl. He also added a completely new aspect to the the musical, starting it off in a classroom setting.
In an email interview, Walsh said, “The story of this play is about learning to trust your imagination. Telling that story in a classroom setting connects with our students and lets them take that lesson home with them.”
The show premiered on January 19, and showed the following Friday and Saturday. The cast consisted of students both from Malvern middle school, and Villa Maria Academy. Walsh and Assistant Director Mr. Stephen Borish were assisted with production by the high school stage, lighting, and sound crews.
Walsh first came to Malvern as a long-term substitute for English teacher Mrs. Kathryn Wolstenholme’s maternity leave. After school, he worked with the middle school cast, alongside Borish.
“This production would have collapsed without Mr. Stephen Borish,” Walsh said. “I’m lucky to have him by my side at every rehearsal.”
With the addition of the new classroom scene, Walsh said that the show was very special. “Because less people know the story and the show, we were able to tell the story through a brand new concept,” said Walsh.
Walsh’s position as a substitute has ended, but he plans to continue directing shows for the Middle School Theater Society.
“I plan on directing here until I either die or they kick me out,” he said. “When I direct students, I always want there to be something educational to come from the show. That’s why schools hire people to direct, they want someone who is going to teach while directing; or at least that’s what I try to do.”
As the production “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” came to a close, Walsh said that it was a huge success. Walsh hopes to continue with his first MTS production. He also wishes to work with a cast similar to the one he has worked on this production with.
“These 24 kids deserve to be seen. They really put on a performance that goes so far beyond the expectations I had for their age group,” he said. “And the themes of the story are relevant for all ages.”