James and the Giant Peach Jr. is a new take on Roald Dahl’s classic story performed by local children 18 and younger. Presented by One Stage Family Theater, this adventurous musical about courage and self-discovery opens at the Elks Theatre, 117 E. Gurley St., Prescott, at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17.

James and the Giant Peach, like many of the Roald Dahl stories that have been adapted into popular movies and plays, is a child’s adventure built out of tragedy. “He wrote things like The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” said Shana Lujan, the play’s musical director. “James and the Giant Peach has been a children’s story for a long time and it’s about a little boy named James and he has no family.”

When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that grows a tremendous peach, rolls into the oceanj and launches a journey of enormous proportions. James befriends a collection of singing insects that ride the giant piece of fruit across the ocean, facing hunger, sharks, and plenty of disagreements along the way.

“His mother and father passed away and he a gets magic spell of kinds that makes a peach in his backyard grow into a giant peach and the insects inside it also grow,” Lujan said. “So, it’s his adventures with the insects and himself inside the giant peach. They are traveling and he’s learning how to believe in himself.”

Director Levi Campbell uses puppetry and elaborate stage settings to bring the magic of this story to the stage.

“The sets are phenomenal,” Lujan said. “The giant peach, of course, is lifesize. It’s huge. It’s a really interesting set.

“It has a lot of components that roll on and roll off and that’s been fun too, because we’ve been teaching some of the older children how to be backstage and helping with the set. So they get to roll them on. They get to roll them off, placing them. We dress them all in black and they are a puppet but they’re also on, so teaching them how to do that type of acting as well.”

Lujan explained that like most of Dahl’s work, there are important life-lessons embedded in the story.

“I think the biggest one is believe yourself,” Lujan said. “The other one is friendship, the power of strong friendship and how much that can do for you and overcoming obstacles.”

According to Lujan, the time constraint in preparing this performance for the stage has been the biggest challenge.

“We started it in the last week of December, so this one is probably one of our quickest shows,” Lujan said. “Normally we have like two, three months solid before we perform, but we had the idea of doing this and we just threw together and we made it work.”

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.prescottelkstheatre.org, or call 928-777-1370.

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