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Director Ryan Scarlata on Peaches, CCT and Why Children’s Theatre is So Important for Young Professionals

Written by Rachel Flenner

Director Ryan Scarlata’s latest project is the regional premiere of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, produced by Columbus Children’s Theatre and running at the Lincoln Theatre May 4-14. We caught up with him to chat about the show and about the importance of children’s theater.

Rachel: What is it that you do as Associate Artistic Director?
Ryan:
A little bit of everything! Along with artistic director Bill Goldsmith, I help to steer the artistic vision of the organization. This includes show selection, hiring of artists, working with sales and marketing departments on messaging of the specific shows and aiding in the education programs.

Rachel: Can you share one of your favorite productions you have directed?
Ryan:
One of my favorites at CCT was The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood. I really enjoyed it because I had a stellar cast who really brought magic to the piece with their comedic timing and wit. The show is a parody of sorts to the original tale.

Rachel: As the show’s director, tell us about this upcoming regional premiere of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.
Ryan:
I've been in love with this music since the first time I heard it. It is infectious and inspiring. The story of JATGP is a terrific one in that it gives little James such a powerful character arc. He transforms from a sad boy with no self-esteem to an energized, confident one who proves the creative and intellectual value of a child. I can't wait to tell this story with the incredible actors and staff.

Rachel: What makes CCT so vital to Columbus?
Ryan:
It's all about experiencing theater arts with your family. We instill and ignite a passion for one of the world's oldest and most recognizable art forms. CCT helps make Columbus an exceptional place to live, work and raise a family.

Rachel: What did you do prior to CCT?
Ryan:
I lived and worked in New York City for a brief time before returning to Columbus in 2012 to assume the role of Education Director. I was promoted to Associate Artistic Director in September 2015. Prior to my return, I had performed Off-Broadway, in a national tour, in NYC staged readings and workshops and spent 13 years in the restaurant industry.

Rachel: What’s your favorite show you ever directed?
Ryan:
CATS last year at CCT. It was a whole new level for me as I had not directed a show of that scale before. I had the added challenge of working on a show that many had preconceived notions about going into it. I think we changed some minds with that production.

Rachel: What are your favorite non-theater arts organizations in Columbus?
Ryan:
Oh gosh! It's a tie for me. Columbus Symphony and BalletMet. I love how each of them continue to evolve their programming and do innovative work.

Rachel: As a young professional in Columbus, can you share how important it is for other young professionals to get their children involved with theater?
Ryan:
Theater makes you a better person – whether it be from the stage or from the audience. It teaches a form of communication you don't necessarily learn from school. As an actor, it requires you to understand yourself on a deeper, clearer level. It allows you to learn to let people into your life. Growing up as a theater kid, I can tell you that with every experience I had, I came out with more friends, more confidence, more education and more heart.

The regional premiere of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach runs at the Lincoln Theatre May 4 – 14. It’s directed by Ryan Scarlata with music and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning duo of Benji Pasek and Justin Paul. Visit ColumbusChildrensTheatre.org for details.

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