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How to Build a 12-foot Rotating Peach

How to Build a 12-foot Rotating Peach

Creating the set for the Middle School production of Roald Dahl’s classic “James and the Giant Peach”  proved to be a logistical challenge for Joshua Miller, USM’s theatre technical director, and his crew of Middle School set designers. “Designing and constructing the peach was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in the entirety of my career,” he said. Thankfully, Miller and his crew, along with director Katie Gonring and her marvelous actors, created a magical world for the audiences.

Students performing in %22James and the Giant Peach%22 stand on top of a giant 12-foot tall rotating peach.

The Walls

Initially, Miller thought he could use spray-foam insulation to form the walls of the peach, but the foam wasn’t thick enough. Miller and his students then used brown butcher paper to cover the structure and fill it out. Finally, they covered the exterior in a layer of foam insulation. “We ended up with a nice round structure, and the foam really brought the texture to life.”

A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma

Once the rotating platform was complete, Miller’s next step was to build a frame. “I knew I wanted the frame to be an octagon inside of a circle, but I was having trouble getting my measurements to work,” he said. After getting help from Tom Lewandowski, Upper School math teacher, Miller proceeded with construction and the frame fit like a glove.

360 Rotation

The peach was constructed on top of plywood circles, which rested on a complicated series of casters, allowing the entire structure to rotate 360 degrees. “This is the first time we’ve built a revolve in Middle School, so it was cool that the students got to experience making it,” said Miller.

Pretty as a Peach

Miller and his students worked with a professional painter to create the distinct yellow, orange, and red hues of a peach. The artist also helped them utilize light and shadow to mimic, for example, the divot where the peach pit would be. “For the longest time it did not resemble a peach—until we painted it. Then it was like, ‘Oh, we have a peach!’”

  • Arts