HMS to present ‘James and the Giant Peach Jr.’

HMS to present ‘James and the Giant Peach Jr.’
Dave Mast

Hiland High School music teacher Alexander Looney works with a group of middle school students in preparation of the upcoming musical, “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” The middle school musical will take place Feb. 14-15.


A giant peach containing an assortment of insects and a young boy will roll into Hiland High School Feb. 14-15 when the Hiland Middle School presents the musical, “James and the Giant Peach Jr.,” in the high school auditorium. The shows will be Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Hiland choir director Alexander Looney said he had a chance to catch this musical at Oakwood Middle School in Canton, where the music and the theme caught his eye.

“A lot of people know this story from the children’s book [by Roald Dahl], but they have created some incredibly fun and intriguing music that really brings each character to life,” Looney said. “I saw it and just fell in love with the music and the entire message.”

The story revolves around James, an orphan who goes to live with Spiker and Sponge, his two mean aunts. They force him to work relentlessly including chopping down their old peach tree in the back yard.

James finds a magic potion that grows a huge peach, into which he is transported. There he makes the acquaintance of a number of insects including Spider, Earthworm, Ladybug, Centipede and Grasshopper, and they must learn to coexist with one another inside the giant peach. The peach travels all over the world, hosting a group of characters who were all hurt by the mean aunts in some way.

Looney said the message in the story of loneliness and learning to be accepted and to accept others is a wonderful message for anyone struggling to find their way.

“The character James is very lost in life as an unwanted orphan, and it is really neat to watch the insects help James kind of find his way in life,” Looney said.

The story is told by a narrator, Ladahlord, who is played by Chloe Kurtz. Ethan Hershberger plays James, Makayla Beachy and Alexis Jones play aunts Spiker and Sponge, Cody Yoder plays Grasshopper, George Malicky plays Centipede, Elliot Mullet plays Earthworm, Hannah Weaver plays Ladybug, and Chloe Keim plays Spider.

Looney said the success of the high school musicals has spurred the middle school students to get involved with their own musicals.

“This past high school musical we did ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and had some middle school students involved, and we have a number of high school students involved with the production of this musical,” Looney said. “I think the younger kids learn a lot from those high school students, and I think they get inspired when they get a chance to see this at the high school level. Plus this is a very neat adaptation of the book that brings the characters to life in a new way.”

In addition to the shows, there will be a VIP reception on Friday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria prior to the opening show. That event is open to any Hiland music booster patrons, any businesses that purchased advertising for the musical, administration and others who are invited by invitation. They can mingle with the cast and enjoy the evening before the show begins.

“We are really excited about this because these middle school musicals continue to set the stage to get kids excited about continuing their stage career at the high school level,” Looney said.

Reserved seating tickets are available online for $6 at Tickets also may be purchased at the door for each play for $8.

Hiland High School is located at 4400 state Route 39 in Berlin.

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