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Children's production opens tonight at The Barn Theatre in Willmar, Minn.

The cast of the Hayloft Player production of "The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)" poses with the BFG paper-mache head that will be used in some scenes of the play, which opens tonight at The Barn Theatre in downtown Willmar. (Tribune photo by Gary Miller)

WILLMAR -- The Hayloft Players present "The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)" at 7 p.m. today and Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at The Barn Theatre in downtown Willmar.

General admission tickets are $5 and sold at the door.

The play is based on the popular children's book "The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)," by Roald Dahl, about a giant and a little girl.

"It's about a giant and he takes Sophie because she saw him," said Emily Malmgren, 9, who plays Sophie. "Then they have a lot of adventures."

Malmgren and the rest of the cast weave a story within a story. Malmgren also plays a girl having a birthday who enlists friends and family to stage a performance of her favorite book, "The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)"

The Big Friendly Giant practically speaks a different language, said Emily Skalla, who plays BFG.

"The lines are definitely a challenge," 12-year-old Skalla said. "I'm memorizing lines like 'I is.' It's difficult to adapt to that kind of language, but it's going.'"

Another of the production's challenges is conveying the extreme differences in the size of the characters. The giant is a 25-foot-tall prince. In some scenes Skalla is acting with a puppet of the Sophie character as Malmgren hides somewhere on stage and speaks for the doll that's less than a foot tall.

In another scene, the giant is represented by a huge paper-mache head. Then it's Skalla's turn to hide and speak.

All the cast help set the scenes and act as puppeteers.

Actors and puppets work together to tell the story of BFG, who harvests the dreams of Dream Country and blows them into the minds of children with his magical trumpet. He is troubled to learn that some of the less friendly giants of the land have left many boys and girls unable to sleep soundly at night.

Determined to put a stop to the frightening activities of the gargantuan grumps, the Big Friendly Giant and Sophie seek the aid of Her Majesty the Queen, played by Ingrid Lindgren, and deliver "spectacular dreams" to the children.

Other cast members are Ava Lindgren, Kayla Fernandez, Mary Carlson, Michelle Carlson, Sarah Carlson, Paige Jansons, Heidi Schmitz, Kylie Halvorson, Jason Malmgren, Elisa Obregon and Gabe Fernandez.

The play is directed by Nicki Dyson.

"It's challenging, but they're like little sponges," Dyson said of the play's young cast. "Hopefully they'll try out for some other plays like the Christmas production, and they have."

Handling costumes and props are Sarah Fernandez, Christine Lindgren, Mihee Malmgren and cast members.

Lighting and sound are by Aaron Weiberg. Stage hands and technical assistants are Elizabeth Mangen, Alan Mangen and Joe Fernandez.