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      James, James, James

      Roald Dahl is crazy. The characters he comes up with are crazy. The plots are crazy. How great is that? No wonder Tim Burton was attracted to the story of an orphan named James who sails crosses the ocean in a giant piece of fruit—accompanied by the wildest of insects, life-sized, no less.

      The story and characters are enough to get your attention, but add music by the team that created THE GREATEST SHOWMAN and you've got something that is nearly irresistible. At least it's irresistible to me. I can't quit listening to it. The center of the whole thing, of course, is a little boy named James, and the kid has two knock-out solos. He sings a lot more than that, but just imagine the energy of a Hugh Jackman bundled into a 9 year old boy and you've got just an inkling of this character. Now where in the world am I going to find such a creature?

      I'm sure that every production of this show faces the same dilemma: where to find a kid who can sing like a miniature Jackman and have the impish innocence of Lil' Orphan Annie, and the energy of...well...of a 9 year old boy. Remember Dahl wrote stories that have been turned into other musicals and these productions would face the same challenge: where to find a Matilda or a Charlie? A kid who is in nearly every scene?

      We had rehearsals and we had some kids audition. It's a tough role to fill. The boys who auditioned had energy and focus and they all can sing. So now what do I do? How do I know if these boys can deliver; can stick with the rehearsals and the two weekends of performances and not lose their voice. I face these unknowns fairly often. (I'm facing it while trying to decide on DAISY!) It's a gamble, often, but I've been fortunate I think with most of the casting choices I've made.

      I'm deciding this weekend. As in most decisions, you make the choice based on the best information you have and then hope for the best. James, as you sing in the show, we are “caught in the middle of a moment.” Looking forward to working with you...and all the bugs.

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