By Kimberly Jenkins -

Brother and Sister, Abbi Sessor as woman whose purse is stolen and Andrew Sessor as Mr. Trotter

The cast of James and the Giant Peach

James and the insects inside the peach

Macie Jones (Sponge) and Kristin Meadows (Spiker) as the aunties

Whimsical, intriguing, overall completely mesmerizing is what last weekend’s James and the Giant Peach brought to the audience of family, friends and the public.

Keeping in mind, that the actors and actresses were just students, ranging from ages 6 through 18. From the very youngest to the oldest, these kids staged a marvelous rendition of the book and made it come to life.

The Portsmouth Area Arts Council and Children’s Theatre has been presenting plays with local children for many years now and never leave the audience without some of the greatest entertainment one could see in this area. Notwithstanding, the wonderful show, this company utilized over 70 bright and shining local children each with their own personalities and talents and brought them all together to share these attributes with audiences all weekend.

Whatever connections were already there or were made during time spent preparing for the final shows, this play contained something for all ages to enjoy.

The young man who portrayed Ladahlord, Devin Watson, who is from Lewis Co., used his musical talent to sing a little tune about things that were, ‘Right before Your Eyes’ had even the smaller ones in the audience repeating the tune as the play continued. Watson used a wonderful enthusiastic portrayal of this character to draw the audience’s attention.

Ten year old Dawson James, playing James, might have been the youngest of the main parts in the play, but he carried himself as well as any adult may have. James has a soft pitched voice that made the audience pay closer attention, not to miss anything he had to say. His portrayal of James brought out his eagerness to make his character seem more real.

James’ two aunties in the play were brought to the heights of bizarre, as they both bounced back and forth in song and humor. Played by Kristen Meadows from Clay and Macie Jones from West, these young ladies, displayed some of the most outlandish, way-out, quirky things to bring these unbelievable characters to an incredible level of craziness and yet kept the audience’s attention anytime they were on the stage.

As James rode in the peach, he was accompanied by several talented characters who gave the normal insect a most fine and realistic personality. One of these stand-outs, was Ian Skeenes from Wheelersburg, who portrayed a most uncomfortable earthworm. Skeenes’ sluggish movements combined with the most over dramatic worm, left the audience, once again in awe and interest. Skeenes has acted in other PAAC plays and was spectacular, especially when in the Lion King.

Playing the tall slender Grasshopper was Caden Wilcox from STEM, who jumped around as he helped the others in their most unusual ride, while not missing a beat on his violin. His talent was unique and yet attention getting.

Not to mention the Centipede, played by Fletcher Holbrook from New Boston, who crooned out song in a wonderful bass voice that added to his character’s melancholy personality. Joining him was the mysterious spider portrayed by Aris Setty, who is home-schooled. Setty played that of a mature insect that had some insightful advise for the other insects on their tumultuous adventure. She carried her portraying of this spider with perfection and drew the audience in with her.

One, who is not to be left out, is that of the ladybug, being played by Julianna Parlin, who sashayed in with her rosy red spunky dress and her terrific portrayal and fearlessness needed to carry this insect as she encourages the other insects.

There was within this cast, kids from all over the local area, Lewis Co., West, Notre Dame, Valley, New Boston, and Northwest were all represented.

The play had many family members that acted together and utilized brothers and sisters, sisters and sisters, cousins and friends, like sisters Anna and Andi Lott, twins from Portsmouth, along with their cousin Gracie Thompson; Chandler and Cassidy McClurg sisters from West; Jayden and Dawson James, with their step-sister, Delaney Bowen from Clay; sisters, Abby and Emily Clausing from Clay; plus brother and sisters, Alex , Kyra, and Angel Stump from Clay. One such set of brother and sister, were Andrew and Abbi Sessor. Andrew, an eighth grader from Bloom-Vernon had participated in another of PAAC’s productions, but this was Abbi’s first time acting.

Abbi said, “It gave me someone I knew, having Andrew there. It helped me make friends and it was definitely worth all the work and I will do it again.” Andrew, her brother, was a bit hesitant as for how he felt having his sister there this time, “I liked having her there, but I guess it was different having her there with my friends that I already knew.” He added that he kind of liked doing the Lion King better than James, cause he felt the show came together better, not because his sister was there.

This is PAAC’s 25th production since their inception in 2010. This group was led by Susan Foster along with her husband, daughter, and son all playing key roles in bringing this production to fruition. PAAC does all of this, without any charge for participating in the theatre. The costumes are all either homemade or alterations of other costumes or clothes. Melanie Parlin and many others including some parents, do a fabulous job on making these costumes look fantastic.

This spring they will be bringing Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it is bound to be another fantastic production. For a company that depends on others for all things monetary, PAAC never lets down, they come out with a production that is worthy of any New York play. They bring forth the best in the kids who act, the music, and the wonderful costumes they share.

Brother and Sister, Abbi Sessor as woman whose purse is stolen and Andrew Sessor as Mr. Trotter and Sister, Abbi Sessor as woman whose purse is stolen and Andrew Sessor as Mr. Trotter

The cast of James and the Giant Peach cast of James and the Giant Peach

James and the insects inside the peach and the insects inside the peach

Macie Jones (Sponge) and Kristin Meadows (Spiker) as the aunties Jones (Sponge) and Kristin Meadows (Spiker) as the aunties

By Kimberly Jenkins

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928


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