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'Big Friendly Giant' story debuts on SCERA's stage

The cast of "Big Friendly Giant": Shawn Mortensen as Big Friendly Giant, Celesta Rimington as Sophie, Debbie Bowman as Meat Dripper, Alex Brown as Flesh Lump Eater, Josh Patterson as Blood Bottler, Nik Mikkelsen as Bone Cruncher and Laurel Barham as Child
The cast of "Big Friendly Giant": Shawn Mortensen as Big Friendly Giant, Celesta Rimington as Sophie, Debbie Bowman as Meat Dripper, Alex Brown as Flesh Lump Eater, Josh Patterson as Blood Bottler, Nik Mikkelsen as Bone Cruncher and Laurel Barham as Child Chewer. The play opens Monday at the SCERA Center for the Arts.
August Miller, Deseret Morning News

OREM — If you're going to be snatched by a giant, it's a good idea to be grabbed by a friendly one.

An English orphan named Sophie learns this when a giant takes her to Giantland and they have to try to figure out a plan to keep the other evil ogres from "guzzling and swallomping nice little chiddlers and human beans."

Thus begins one of British author Roald Dahl's most beloved stories that is being transformed from page to stage for the SCERA's Theater for Young Audiences production of "The BFG: Big Friendly Giant." (Among Dahl's other children's classics are "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Matilda" and "James and the Giant Peach.")

The play is only 60 minutes long and is designed specifically to introduce the magic of live theater to children.

It is one of two the SCERA Center for the Arts will produce this year. (In March 2008, Peggy Parish's "Amelia Bedelia" will come to life in a new musical.)

"These plays are probably the most rewarding thing we do," said Adam J. Robertson, SCERA's President and CEO. "There's nothing better than seeing a child laugh and be completely immersed in one of their favorite books in literal 3-D."

"It has a great script and involves many aspects of the stage. We have big sound effects, wonderful potions and dreams that light up when caught. It has been a fun piece to tackle, and with its twisted words and big-hearted charm, it's the perfect Halloween show for young people," said director David Whitlock.

Whitlock is using big and bright Sesame Street-like giant heads on the actors and also some shadow puppetry and Muppet dolls. The cast had a short lesson in puppetmaking and each made his or her own for the show to reflect how small in size the Londoners are in relation to the giants.

Eight adult actors weave the suspense as BFG and Sophie try to stop the other giants from targeting the children of England. They use all the creativity they can devise and even include the queen of England.

In humor likely most appreciated by children, the script has the giants drink their potions, and when the bubbles go downward they do what the script tactfully calls "whizpopping." "The scene is hilarious," Whitlock said. "The play is full of cute, funny dialogue, and I'm really pleased with how well it is going."

The cast includes Shawn Mortensen as the BFG and Celesta Rimington as Sophie. The bad giants have very descriptive character names: Laurel Barham is Child Chewer; Alex Brown is Flesh Lump Eater; Josh Patterson is Blood Bottler; Nik Mikkelsen is Bone Cruncher; Debbie Bowman is Meat Dripper; and Corinne Timmons is Gizzard Gulper.

Debbie Bowman is the costume designer. Danielle Berry is the stage manager, and Mike James is the lighting designer.


If you go . . .

What: "The BFG: Big Friendly Giant"

Where: SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 S. State, Orem

When: 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Mondays, Oct. 22-Nov. 9; 2 p.m. Saturdays

Cost: $6/$4 children

Phone: 225-2569

Web:www.scera.org