Q&A with Maddie Smith of James and the Giant Peach

Maddie Smith

We asked Maddie Smith, who plays the role of James Trotter in James and the Giant Peach, a few questions as she prepares to open this magical show.

Q. What other shows have you appeared in at Omaha Community Playhouse?

A. I've been in A Christmas Carol for the past three years (2015: Girl with Sled) (2016 and 2017: Belinda Cratchit) and I was one of two actors to play Chip in Beauty and the Beast.

Q. This is your first lead role - how different has that been for you?

A. It's been a lot of fun - a really great experience. It's a lot of work being there at every rehearsal, but I love being at the Playhouse, so getting to be there every night is great. It is very different from other roles I've played because I am in a lot more scenes. I also know that I have been given a big opportunity and there is quite a bit of responsibility being the lead. I really want to play James as best I can. I love the character - he is afraid and lonely, but very brave at the same time. He takes chances and believes that things should be better than they are for him. It's just such a wonderful story and I am lucky to work with the most amazing people.

Q. What is your favorite part of James and the Giant Peach?

A. That's a hard question! I would say the song "Middle of the Moment" because this is when James comes out of his shell and he realizes he has the power to control his own life and the ability to take care of himself. Even though that is scary and hard and he can't predict what will happen, he can do anything and his life will be better than it is with his aunts. 

Q. What is your favorite play or musical?

A. That is the hardest question to answer. My favorite radio channel to listen to in the car is the Broadway channel. I love musical theatre. I've been so lucky to have seen quite a few Broadway shows such as Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Waitress, Into the Woods and Dear Evan Hansen. I love Hamilton (which I got to see in Chicago) and Dear Evan Hansen most of all... and of course, James and the Giant Peach!

Don't miss Maddie and the rest of the cast in James and the Giant Peach running March 2 - 25, 2018 in OCP's Hawks Mainstage Theatre. Ticket information here. 

Beyond Parade: Additional Historical Resources

Parade is a musical based on true events. That fact alone makes the production instantly more intriguing, however, it may leave audience members wondering, "what historical aspects were left out?"
If you've already seen Parade and are desperate to learn more or you want some preliminary information before the show, there are plenty of sources to consume.

Leo Frank's Wikipedia Page

For a quick, ground level understanding of Leo Frank and the trial, start here.

The People vs. Leo Frank

This PBS documentary from 2009 combines interviews and actor portrayals using dialogue pulled directly from historical records. The film in its entirety can be found here.

The Murder of Mary Phagan

This two part mini series from 1988 stars Jack Lemmon as Governor Slaton and Peter Gallagher as Leo Frank. Parade director Jeff Horger called it "more of a heightened dramatization than a historical portrayal," but said it was a helpful reference regarding the group scenes that take place within this world.

Books Recommended by the Director

For those looking to take a deep dive into all the gritty details that didn't make it to screen or stage.

Parade Costumes: From Sketches to the Stage

Costume designer Lindsay Pape officially join the Omaha Community Playhouse staff as resident costume designer in the Fall of 2017 and hit the ground running with Stupid F@#%ing Bird. She now takes on a completely different production, the historical musical Parade. Set in Georgia in 1913, Parade dramatizes the real trial of Jewish businessman Leo Frank for the alleged murder of young Mary Phagan.

The most important thing to remember when working on costumes for a show like this? Lindsay says they will be inspired by the time period, but not exact historical recreations. They must suggest the time of the show but be flexible for the needs of performers.

Lindsay was kind enough to offer some additional commentary on the designing process for this show: 


November 2017
  • Director Jeff Horger begins research and creates a costume plot detailing all characters, what scenes they’re in and what costumes they require
  • Lindsay tests out various patterns for items to be built.
December 2017
  • Lindsay and Jeff meet to discuss costume concepts. Lindsay creates small, general renderings (sketches).
  • Casting is finalized on December 13th, allowing Lindsay to create more specific renderings for each character.
  • Actors come in to have measurements taken.
  • Shoes, suits, dress shirts, etc. are pulled from OCP costume storage.
  • Construction begins on pieces built in-house.
January 2018
  • Specialty fabric and uniforms ordered online.
  • Actors come in for fittings.
  • Construction continues on built pieces as pulled/purchased pieces are altered.
  • Costumes finalized for actors involved in the promotional photo shoot.
February 2018
  • Final touches and alterations on all costumes.
  • Costumes integrated into production during tech week.
  • Parade opens February 9th.


  • Actors: 24
  • Total costumes: 39 + a contemporary outfit for each actor
  • Uniforms for guards and civil war soldiers were ordered from C&C Sutlery out of Idaho.
  • Though authentic, vintage clothing exists from the early 1900's, theatrical productions rarely use these items because they are too fragile to survive multiple weeks of performances.
  • The exception in this production is the robe Judge Roan wears that is from 1911.
  • Lindsay’s favorite piece in the show that was purchased is Luther Rosser’s seer sucker suit.
  • She could not pick a favorite piece that was constructed for this show, but adores all of Lucille Frank's pieces.
  • Biggest challenge with the costumes for Parade: Getting the uniforms from the manufacturer. Thank goodness for rush ordering and great customer service!

See these phenomenal costumes in person at Parade playing February 9-March 11 in OCP's Howard Drew Theatre. Ticket information here

Dr. King Depicted in Theatre

From 1776 to Evita to Hamilton, historical figures have inspired many theatrical works over the years. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is no exception. In addition to many depictions on television and film, play wrights and composers have attempted to give us additional insight into this influential leader. The following list of stage works featuring Dr. King is not at all comprehensive, so please comment on the post if you have additional titles to add!

The Mountaintop
This fictional play imagines the final night of Dr. King’s life. It premiered in London in 2009 and opened on Broadway in 2011 starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. The Omaha Community Playhouse production goes on sale March 27and will run May 4-27, 2018.

I Dream
This “rhythm and blues opera” by librettist, lyricist and composer Douglas Tappin premiered at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia in 2010. A full concept recording is available on iTunes and Spotify.

I Have a Dream
This production originated on Broadway in 1976 and starred Billy Dee Williams as Dr. King. Subsequent iterations have expanded the inclusion of music.

Selma: A Musical Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Originally written in 1978 by Tommy Butler, this show’s complete cast recording is also available on iTunes and Spotify. One of the show’s tracks, “Prison Song” was recently sampled by rapper Future in his 2017 song “Mask Off.”

Skin Deep: The story of Martin Luther King

This 30 minute play was originally produced in 1985 by a church in Ontario. The simple script is approachable for school groups and organizations who aren’t looking for a lengthy, full-scale production. 

Cast of James and the Giant Peach


James - Maddie Smith
Spiker - Jodi Vaccaro
Sponge - Sara Mattix
Spider - Samantha Zarders
Grasshopper - Kyle Avery
Ladybug - Sarah Ebke
Earthworm - Zhomontee Watson
Centipede - Steve Krambeck
Ladahlord - Aaron Mann
Ensemble: Tyson Bentley, Carmen Butler, Lillian Cohen, Justin Eller, Brandon Fisher, Aubrey Fleming, Cody Girouex, Jamie Gould, Eliot Gray, Mark Haufle, Ryan Laughlin, April Neidig, Tayler Lempke Plank, Isabelle Rangel, Aidan Schmidtke, Joshua Shapiro, Isabella Smith, Cleo Washington


Kimberly Faith Hickman - Director
Steve Priesman - Stage Manager
Chris Ebke - Music Director
Jennifer Novak Haar - Music Rehearsal Assistant
Nicole Mason Lazenby - Choreographer
Darin Kuehler - Properties
Greg Scheer - Production Coordinator
Tim Burkhart - Resident Sound Designer
Chris Wood - Lighting Designer
Amanda Fehlner - Costume Designer
Anha Packard - Scene Designer

Cast of Parade


Mary Phagan - Chloe Irwin
Lucille Frank - Megan Kelly
Mrs. Phagan - Melissa King
Hugh Dorsey - Michael Markey
John Slaton - Mike Palmreuter
Jim Conley - Jonathan Smith
Leo Frank - James Verderamo
Newt Lee - L James Wright
Riley - Brendan Brown
Minnie - Breanna Carodine
Essie - Brooke Fencl
Brit Craig - Adam Hogston
Judge Roan - Nelson Lampe
Frankie Epps - Grant Mannschreck
Sally Slaton - Rebecca Noble
Ivey - Joshua Lloyd Parker
Tom Watson - Brian Priesman
Mr. Turner - Tony Schneider
Luther Rosser - Christopher Scott
Lizzie Phagan - Jill Solano
Iola - Grace Titus
Starnes - Scott Vandentop
Monteen - Catherine Vazquez
Mr. Peavey - Randy Wallace


Jeff Horger - Director
Suzanne Withem - Assistant Director
Stephanie Shattuck - Stage Manager
Jim Othuse - Scenic and Lighting Designer
Jim Boggess - Music Director
Lindsay Pape - Costume Designer

Gift Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Experiences make the best gifts! Check everyone off your list and create lasting memories this holiday season.

✔ The Littles

A copy of the best-selling novel James and the Giant Peach along with tickets to see the show in March! Student tickets start at just $18. More info here: http://www.omahaplayhouse.com/tickets/view/james/

✔ The Teenagers

Classes through the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy! Let your young performers explore new skills through Teen Players, Musical Theatre Dance, Stage Combat and more! Classes start at $75 per session. More info here: http://www.omahaplayhouse.com/education-and-programming/view/class-and-workshop-series/

✔ The Grandparents

Tickets to Ripcord! This comedy about two broads battling it out in a senior living center will bring a smile to everyone’s face. Get a 4 pack of tickets for just $80 when you buy before Jan. 2, 2018. More info here: http://www.omahaplayhouse.com/tickets/view/ripcord/

✔ The Significant Other

A mini-season subscription! Give the gift of multiple date nights! Create a custom package of 3 shows or get a Mini Starcard for all 6 remaining productions. Adult packages start at $105 per person. More info here: http://www.omahaplayhouse.com/tickets/view/mini-season-subscriptions/

✔ The Parents

A gift certificate! Not sure exactly what they’ll want or when they’ll be free? OCP gift certificates can be purchased for any amount and applied to just about anything: tickets, subscriptions, classes… Take the pressure off yourself and let the recipient decide. Call the box office for more info at (402) 553-0800.