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