In advance of James & the Giant Peach’s arrival at Marin Theatre Company on Nov. 6, local blogger Ronnie Sharpe spoke with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul about their creative process and background.
The Bay Area Children’s Theater (BACT) brings the surreal world, inspired by Roald Dahl’s classic tale of James and the Giant Peach to theaters all around the Bay Area over the next month, starting with the Nov. 6–9 run at the Marin Theatre Company. The story is about James, an orphaned boy, who escapes from his wicked aunts aboard an enormous enchanted peach inhabited by a bevy of bugs. I had a chance to speak to the Tony Award-nominated songwriters of James and the Giant Peach, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, to give some insight on their creative process and background about writing the music for James and the Giant Peach.

What was your childhood like?
Justin: I grew up in a musical home. My parents played piano, guitar and sang. When I was 10, my parents were looking for an outlet for me to do something that included singing. At that age, there were not a lot of options but they found musical theatre. Growing up, I performed in lots of plays. I loved singing, dancing, piano, acting and percussion. I had a very rich musical and theatrical childhood.
Benj: Writing, poetry, and music was introduced early in my life. My mom is a developmental psychologist and on the side she liked to write songs to capture moments in our lives. This became very popular at my preschool. My mom and her friend became a children’s music duo and continued to write many albums of kids music about growing up such as “Jumping in a Puddle” and “Hugs and Kisses.” I grew up in an environment of turning every moment of life into song. As I got older, I became interested in writing my own songs. I was so lucky to grow up in a very supportive environment where theatre and music was accessible and encouraged.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Justin: I knew musical theatre was something I had a passion for but I didn’t know I could do this as a career. I thought of it as just a fun way to express myself, exercise that creative muscle, and develop my talent. It wasn’t until high school when I realized that people do this for a living. Then I knew musical theatre was going to be more then just a fun hobby.

Click here for the full Q&A. And visit Ronnie’s Awesome List for a massive list of family-friendly events throughout the Bay Area.

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