JamesGiantPeach-Filament

James and the Giant Peach is a great kid-friendly live performance, playing through March 15 at Chicago’s Filament Theatre. Photo by Megy Karydes.

Roald Dahl’s classic fantasy book, James and the Giant Peach, comes to life at Chicago’s Filament Theatre beginning February 7, 2015 through Sunday, March 15. The live theatrical performance has all the cuttings to make it exciting for children as young as four including puppets, shadow play and juggling.

The story is told through James (played by Christian Libonati), the child who loses both parents in a freak rhinoceros accident and goes to live with his two evil aunts, Spiker (played by Nathan Drackett) and Sponge (played by Sarah August Hecht). Just when things feel like they couldn’t get any worse for James, a man invites him to the pit of a giant peach where he meets some insect friends.

The production mimics the book as James and his friends work together to stay alive, whether it’s fending off sharks or maneuvering large hills. While James is the star of the story, my family and I though Earthworm (played by Lindsay Dorcus) stole the show. Her relationship with James and the rest of the insects, including her nemesis, Centipede, is heartwarming and funny.

Without giving away the entire story line, Director Kathryn Walsh went to great lengths to create a riveting and entertaining production that kept children young and old in their seats for a solid hour.

Filament Theater is one of Chicago’s best small theaters, especially to introduce young children to live performance arts. Last year’s theatrical production debut at its new Portage Park location on the city’s northwest side, Snow Queen, featured a larger than life face mask that had kids and adults alike oohing throughout the performance. The creativity of this house is really remarkable and exciting for kids to witness.

Chicago is well-known for its small and intimate theaters (as well as it’s larger productions). For this production, only six rows separate the audience from the characters. Being so up close and personal definitely gives audience members a different experience than being in a large auditorium. After each performance, everyone is invited to come onto the stage and touch the props or talk with the actors. It’s those types of experiences that many audience members remember and create a life-long love of the arts.

The Six Corners area, where Filament Theatre is located, has seen a healthy spike in family-friendly restaurants as of late. Metered parking can be found along busy Milwaukee Avenue. Grab a bite to eat before or after the performance at one of the many nearby family-friendly restaurants.

Filament Theatre produces several productions throughout the year. James and the Giant Peach continues through March 15.