'James and the Giant Peach' album to be released for free

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — The Tony Award-nominated songwriting team behind the musical "James and the Giant Peach" have good news for their fans — and even better news.

The good news is that they're releasing the cast album of the show with a powerhouse cast including Broadway stars Christian Borle, Brian d'Arcy James and Megan Hilty. The better news? It's free.

Starting Tuesday, the cast album recorded with a 26-piece orchestra will be available for download at the show's website.

Songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek and story writer Timothy Allen McDonald hope the giveaway will encourage theaters across the country to do the show or, at the very least, make your long car rides with the kids more fun.

"We really want to share it," Pasek said. "We really do hope that people do productions of it, and that is more meaningful to us than making money on it."

The 20-song CD also features Jackie Hoffman, Mary Testa, Sarah Stiles, Daniel Breaker and Marc Kudisch. All recorded their songs last summer in New York.

The musical is based on the beloved best-selling book of the same name by Roald Dahl and recently had a run at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. It premiered at the Seattle Children's Theatre in late 2013.

"We had a lot of fun creating this music and really the point of it is joy and wonder. It's for kids and families to enjoy together," Paul said. "The thing to make that happen is to give it away."

Pasek and Paul, the youngest winners of the Jonathan Larson grant, which awards artists for their work, also wrote songs and lyrics for the Tony-nominated "A Christmas Story the Musical" and the off-Broadway hit "Dogfight."

For the musical of an orphan who creates a new family from a motley collection of insects aboard a massive peach, they teamed up with McDonald, a playwright and iTheatrics founding chairman who works to have all kids get exposure to the arts.

"It just seemed like an awesome opportunity to open it up so that any kid who has access to a computer and the Internet can download this," he said. "It seemed like the right thing to do."

The cast album is rich and varied, ranging from the big, infectious "Right Before Your Eyes" to the sublime power ballad "Middle of a Moment" to the mad, Latin-flavored "Plump and Juicy" with the lyrics, "A never-ending fancy feast/Bring a friend or 12 at least."

"When you have 6-foot earthworms and you have a kid who embarks on a journey across the Atlantic on a flying peach, you really can go anywhere musically. That was something that was so appealing to us," said Pasek, laughing.

Getting such talent to sing on the album was both a sign of the eternal pull of Dahl's original story and the goodwill toward rising stars Paul and Pasek.

The show's creators one day created a wish list of Broadway stars simply as a guide to the kind of voices and personalities they hoped for. Then they decided to ask the stars themselves. Within 48 hours, all had said yes.

The creators have been aching for people to hear the result and hopefully hum along with a ladybug, spider, earthworm and grasshopper.

"We want this to be ubiquitous," McDonald said. "We want people, when they hear 'James and the Giant Peach,' to think 'plump and juicy, I'm the yummy gummy.'"




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