The REP Youth Academy presents James and the Giant Peach, Jr. this weekend! Check out our interview with director/choreographer, Jennifer Adams, who also serves as The REP’s Education Director!

How does it feel to be directing your first show as Education Director at The REP? 

I love working with young people and think that The REP’s Youth Academy productions are one of the best youth theatre programs in the country! It is a great privilege to work with such talented students and get to know their families. The design and technical staff is fantastic and really create a unique and exciting experience. I also love the music in this particular show, so it has been a ton of fun!

What kind of education or training prepared you for this career? 

I was so lucky to be a Theatre for Young Audiences MFA student at UCF! I was able to study TYA and work at The REP simultaneously. The ability to work in professional office and theatre environments as a student was a huge step for me in understanding what it takes to be a professional in the TYA field. Since then I have never stopped seeking new learning or observation experiences. I try to see every opportunity as a learning one, I hope to still continue observing and assisting others to learn for many years to come!

How did you approach directing James and the Giant Peach? Where did you go for inspiration? 

I started with the novel and then the script. I like to use the text to try and see the material through the eyes of the creators before looking at it through my own.

What are three words to describe your direction? 

Energetic. Curious. Evolving.

What is your favorite part of the musical, and why? 

I absolutely love seeing every single member of the cast make each of their roles unique. There are so many little moments of humor and character in the background of each scene!

What is your favorite song in the musical, and why?

My favorite song in the play is “Everywhere That You Are”.

It is not only beautiful, but is the heart of the entire story. James is on a journey of dealing with the grief of losing his parents. This song assures him, and all of us, that we can move on in loving memory of those who are no longer with us. Its an important thing to remember for audiences of any age.

What is your favorite Roald Dahl book, and why? 

My favorite Roald Dahl book is “Matilda”. I have always loved how smart and strong her character is. When I was younger I thought it was exciting how she was able to overcome the terrible adults in her life, and as an adult I love how the book can empower young people to be confident in themselves. And the Broadway musical version of the story…it is fantastic! It’s on my bucket list of shows to work on one day!

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