First Stage
Press Release

First Stage’s 29th season begins with family favorite Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach

October 16 – November 15, 2015 at the Todd Wehr Theater, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

By - Sep 14th, 2015 11:02 am

Milwaukee, WI – First Stage’s exciting 2015-2016 season kicks off with a musical of enormous proportions with Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, October 16 – November 15, 2015. Performances take place at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street, downtown Milwaukee.  Tickets can be purchased in person at the Marcus Center box office at 929 N. Water Street, by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online at

Based on the beloved novel JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH by Roald Dahl, this musical adaptation follows James’ adventure across the ocean on a gigantic peach. Veteran Milwaukee actor and director Matt Daniels returns to First Stage (GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, SHREK THE MUSICAL) to direct this larger-than-life musical. “I was inspired by the light at the center of the darkness of Roald Dahl’s work, so we will explore the story through that very juxtaposition, employing different methods of shadow-puppetry, in addition to live action scenes and musical numbers,” said Daniels. “The show, like the book, has a little something for everyone, from James’ deliciously sour aunts, Spiker and Sponge, to the sweetness of his discovery of a new family in the unlikeliest of places.”

First Stage’s production of Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is sponsored by Rexnord. Media sponsors include FOX6, MetroParent Magazine, and 99.1 The Mix.

Matt Daniels (Director) Matt is a frequent collaborator at First Stage, as an actor (SHREK THE MUSICAL, A MIDNIGHT CRY, A WRINKLE IN TIME, AESOP’S FABLES, FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS and NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER), director (RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER™: THE MUSICAL, TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, CYMBELINE, ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD and THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD), and teacher for the Theater Academy. He has numerous credits with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, In Tandem Theater, and the late Milwaukee Shakespeare, and has also performed with Forward Theater, Kentucky Rep., Lake Geneva Theater Co., several regional Shakespeare Festivals, and on many independent stages in New York. Matt’s directing work has been seen locally at First Stage, MCT’s New Play Development series, Sunset Playhouse, and goats & monkeys. An avid ukulelist, he enjoys time spent with Il Bazzone’s Jumping Flea Circus. He is the associate director of First Stage’s Young Company and a graduate of the Juilliard Drama Division.

Paul Helm (Music Director) Previous First Stage credits for Paul include last season’s BIG FISH, Seussical, U: Bug: Me!, My Son Pinocchio, Alexander…Very Bad Day, Junie B. Jones…Monkey Business, A Year With Frog and Toad, and The Quiltmaker’s GiftPaul has also performed, directed and music directed with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Skylight Music Theatre, American Folklore Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Greenbrier Valley Theatre, Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse, Young Actors Guild, Bucknell University, Marquette University, and the UW-Platteville Heartland Festival.  Last fall, Paul was a vocalist for Disney on Classic, a three-month symphony concert tour of Japan with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

The adult actor cast of Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH includes Amber Nicole Dilger (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Spiker; Andrew Varela (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Lahdalord; Beth Mulkerron (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Ladybug/Ensemble; Jenny Wanasek (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Sponge; Lamar Jefferson (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Earthworm/Ensemble; Doug Clemons as Grasshopper/Ensemble; and Rick Pendzich as Centipede.

Young performer roles are double cast.  Young performers in the Plump Cast are Luke Brotherhood (as James) from Mequon; Madeline McNichols (as Spider/Ensemble) and Amira Elsafy (Ensemble) from Whitefish Bay; Malia Westlake (Ensemble) from Hartland; and Celeste Mae Hermans (Ensemble) from Saukville.

Young performers in the Round Cast are Nolan Van Haren (as James) from Sussex; Lydia Stevenson (as Spider/Ensemble) from Fitchburg; Camara Stampley (Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Esther O’Brien (Ensemble) from Brookfield; and Sarah Kinn (Ensemble) from Germantown.

The Artistic Staff for Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH includes: Paul Helm (Music Director); Edwin Olvera (Choreographer); Kristin Ellert (Scenic Designer); Jason Fassl, USAA (Lighting Designer); Melissa Torchia, USAA (Costume Designer); Brandon Kirkham (Puppet Designer); Matt Whitmore (Sound Designer); Michelle Lopez-Rios (Dialect Coach); Melissa L. Wanke (Stage Manager) and Nicole Wiegert (Assistant Stage Manager).

Tickets start at $15.  Tickets may be purchased at or through the Marcus Center box office, in person at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee or by phone (414) 273-7206 or toll free at (888) 612-3500. The number for TDD (for deaf and hard of hearing patrons) is (414) 273-3080.

Group Sales – Groups of 10 or more receive 15% off main floor, regular single ticket prices on most First Stage performances at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. Call (414) 267-2964 or email for more information.

First Stage Family Packages – any combination of tickets for three or more plays in our 2015-16 season – are on sale now. Family package prices are available at up to 30% off the cost of regular single ticket prices. Benefits include unlimited ticket exchanges, free family workshops, backstage tours and more.

Special events for Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH

Opening Night Reception: Friday, October 16 – Following the opening night performance, First Stage invites all patrons to attend the Opening Night Reception at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located one mile from the Marcus Center at 325 W. Walnut Street.  Patrons can mix and mingle with the cast and crew of Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH while enjoying refreshments, courtesy of First Stage.


Location:  The Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N. Water Street, Milwaukee

Dates:  October 16 – November 15, 2015

Description:  When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion which results in a tremendous peach – and launches a journey of enormous proportions. Suddenly James finds himself in the center of the gigantic peach among human-sized insects with equally oversized personalities. Thanks to James’ quick wit and creative thinking, the residents learn to live and work together as a family. Roald Dahl’s story comes hilariously to life in this musical of epic proportions. For everyone ages 6 and up.


  • Friday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. – OPENING NIGHT
  • Saturday, October 17 at 1 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 18 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 21 at 7:00 p.m. – PAY WHAT YOU CHOOSE PERFORMANCE
  • Saturday, October 24 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 25 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 1 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 7 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 8 at 1 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 14 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 15 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.

Ticket and information: Tickets start at $15. Call (414) 273-7206 or online at

ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, November 15 at 3:30 p.m. – this performance will be sign language interpreted for patrons who are deaf or have low hearing. Assistive listening devices are also available at the Todd Wehr Theater.

About First Stage
Since 1987, First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; and dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community.  In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

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One thought on “First Stage’s 29th season begins with family favorite Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach”

  1. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    Roald Dahl is such a great author (even in his adult books you feel that he is talking directly to you as a friend), and I’m sure this production is one that no one should miss!

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