REVIEW: Dorman Hosts Fantastical ‘Big Friendly Giant’

bfg2BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

In celebration of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, Dorman High School presents an alluring stage adaptation this weekend of the famed author’s “The BFG” aka “The Big Friendly Giant” who proves that size is relative.

Adapted by David Wood, “The BFG” is the capricious story of a young British orphan named Sophie (Maria Gajdosik) who is whisked away from her bed one night by a 24-foot giant (Alexander Davis) and taken to his cave for safekeeping.

But unlike fellow giants that love to chow down on tasty human children, The BFG is benevolent and subsists on a diet of vegetables like snozzcumbers, which Sophie remarks taste like “frog skins” and “rotten fish.”

Obviously a 24-foot giant is nearly impossible to portray in a live production (although a BIG surprise does await audiences in the latter part of the play), so director Leah Wren accomplishes a sense of scale and proportion with a doppelganger doll that stands in as needed while Miss Gajdosik provides the voiceover and dialogue.

Who else but Dahl (and maybe J.K. Rowling) could concoct such zany names like a whizzpopper (a certain unspeakable bodily function)? He is, after all, the beloved laureate of so many modern children’s classics such as “Matilda,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

And when the horde of ghastly giants goes on a rampage gobbling up kiddies across the continent, it’s up to The BFG and Sophie to save the children and humanity. It doesn’t hurt either to have assistance from the Queen of England (a resplendent showing by Aleena Callicut) and even the Queen of Sweden (Madison Fox).

Miss Gajdosik, with a fine London accent, is the brightest of sparks as the lonely Sophie. And Davis (in a broken English/Australian dialect) is so charming that we swiftly look past the seemingly grotesque façade of latex and make-up and see the gentle being within.

The play is slightly dark but laden with comical touches at every pass and suitable for all ages. And though the evil giants have yukky frightening names like Fleshlumpeater (Trey Westbrook), Bloodbottler (Asher Honeycutt), Bonecruncher (Payton Williams), Meatdripper (Makensie Wilson), Childchewer (Brandon Bruce) and Gizzardgulper (Loni Covington), they are physically docile enough (like bobble-head Peanuts characters on a bad day or the Land Shark from “Saturday Night Live”) and won’t scare the little ones.

The lively company (most in dual roles) also includes the skills of Daniel Aull, Thomari Gooden, Gwynne Holland, Mattison Lawson, Maddyson Potts, Mikayla Robinson, Sydnie Rogers and Kristina Thacker.

And everyone will be in utter awe during the gorgeously-constructed scene when The BFG demonstrates his special talent as a dreamcatcher and Troy McDowell’s lighting immerses the entire theater in a surreal, magical excursion that you’ll be talking about for days to come.

Junior Kalista Pedersen is Stage Manager and also designed the show’s highly-imaginative and impressive sets such as BFG’s cave and the Queen’s bedchamber and Ballroom at Buckingham Palace.

Production Manager is Alvetta Smith Draper, Choreographer is California Clark, Sound Designer is Rusty Milner and Assistant Stage Managers are Christel Hendricks and Rebecca Wolfe.

Disney did release Steven Spielberg’s live-action film version of “The BFG” this summer, but a DVD release date has not been announced yet.

“The BFG” runs at Dorman Fine Arts Center, 1050 Cavalier Way in Roebuck on Sept. 22-24 with shows Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $5 and available at http://www.showtix4u.com.

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