Exuberant 1st grader, Junie B. Jones, at Westport Country Playhouse
She’s an outspoken whippersnapper — precocious, smart and funny, with a heart and personality the size of a school bus.
A born leader and writer by inclination, many hope she will become a U.S. president or a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Only time will tell. At the moment, she is in the first grade.
Junie B. Jones might be just a youngster, but she is already “known to millions” — the subject of a musical that has toured the country for about 15 years. “Junie B. Jones, The Musical” comes to Westport Country Playhouse on Sunday, Feb. 11, for two performances. Adapted from the books by Barbara Park, the stage show was created for, and commissioned by, TheatreWorks USA, of Manhattan, billed as one of America’s largest nonprofit professional theaters for young and family audiences.
In a recent telephone chat, TheatreWorks artistic director Barbara Pasternack said “Junie B.” has become the company’s most successful family production. Having played off-Broadway and TheatreWorks USA, it “has the distinction of being the only children’s theater company to have won both a Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award.” It is suggested for ages 4-10.
“This is such a smart, clever production ... where parents often enjoy it just as much as the kids, if not more,” Pasternack added, laughing. “Children aren’t the only ones singing songs” from the musical as they leave the theater. The composer is Zina Goldrich and lyricist/author is Marcy Heisler.
“Junie is a lovable character who sees the world in bright colors ... through her own eyes ... as a unique individual,” Pasternack said.
Throughout the musical, Junie B. — “The B stands for Beatrice, only I do not like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all,” she writes — keeps a record of her life in what she calls her “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal.”
How can you resist a kindergarten graduate who writes:
Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court. Sunday, Feb. 11, 1 and 4 p.m. $20. 203-227-4177, wesportplayhouse.org
“Dear first-grade journal,
Hooray, hooray! ... In first grade, I meet new friends (like Herb and José, but not that tattletale May). But my new teacher, Mr. Scary, thinks I might need glasses!”
In one of her entries, “Boss of Lunch,” she said one of her goals is to be Queen of the Lunchroom. “I get to help my friend, the cafeteria lady! And I get to wear a real actual hairnet too! Who knows ... maybe someday I'll be the boss of the whole lunch operation!”
Junie goes on to deal with a lot of concerns — getting glasses, developing friendships and learning new things — both glad and sad, Pasternack said.
“Junie wants to be a superstar” in everything she does, Pasternack said. “But in the end, she learns that being yourself” is what matters.
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