NORTH ADAMS -- Playing the main character in "James and Giant Peach" comes with a lot of responsibility, but 10-year-old Charlie Waltermire says he isn't fazed by the amount of lines or time he spends on stage.
"I'm on stage almost all of the time, except for a scene and a half," he said this week, during an interview at Mill City Productions. "I find remembering my lines to be pretty easy. I really like acting -- it's like being a different person. You get to jump into the body of a different person for a while. The hardest thing for me is not touching the peach."
Mill City Productions will present Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach," the story of a little boy who goes on a magical adventure inside a giant peach with a company of insects, over two weekends, beginning tonight at 7.
Charlie was director Liz Urban's first choice for the role of James, having worked with the Greylock Elementary School fourth-grader during the theater's 2010 production of "A Christmas Carol."
"When I read the script, I knew I had my James. I knew Charlie would be up to the task. He's a seasoned actor," she said Wednesday. "When he played Tiny Tim in ‘A Christmas Carol,' he not only knew his lines, but the lines of the other characters as well. He also takes to accents well, so he's performing the part [of James] with a British accent."
In addition to acting, Charlie also sings. He placed second in the 7-to-11 age category during the 2012 Berkshire Idol contest and recently was chosen as a semi-finalist for the 2013 competition.
"I'm one step closer to becoming this year's Berkshire Idol," he joked. "My favorite singer is Frank Sinatra, so I perform a few of his songs."
In preparing Charlie for the role, it was important to Urban that he not view the animated version of the book.
"There's quite a few differences," she said. "When I chose ‘James and the Giant Peach' it was for several reasons. It's one of Roald Dahl's stories that people haven't had a lot of exposure too -- so there aren't a lot of productions or movies that our production can be compared to."
Richard R. George's adaptation of the book also struck a chord with Urban, as the forward of the script was written by Dahl.
"It was important to me that this particular adaptation was approved by Ronald Dahl," she said. "I really love Roald Dahl's work and this play is pretty close to his story."
Urban said that she's had a few people ask if the story is family friendly, which she assures is quite appropriate for young children.
"The show is about an hour and 15 minutes with an intermission," she said. "I think it's really great for families with young kids. I think the biggest question for parents is if they think their children can sit for 45 minutes at a time."
The cast also features Jackie DiGiorgis as the earthworm; Amy Van Dusen as the glowworm; Ross Jacobs as the grasshopper; Courtney Shapiro as the centipede; Michelle Jensen as the spider and Samantha Therrien as the lady bug. Additional cast members include Jenn Morgan, Tim Mangun, Lauren Skiffington, Wendy Gregory and Abby Jimmo.
"What's great about this production is not only do we have returning members of our stage family, but we also have some new members and some people who haven't performed with us in a while who are returning," Urban said.
What: Mill City Productions' 'James and the Giant Peach'
Where: Building 4N, Western Gateway Heritage State Park
Runtime: 1 hour 15 minutes, including intermission
When: Tonight and Saturday, at 7 p.m.; matinees at 2 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday. Additional performances Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m., with matinees Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children. Purchase online at www.millcityproductions.org or at the door.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email