Theater Review: Treat the kids to ‘Junie B. Jones The Musical’ at the Engeman
By Heidi Sutton
Wowie wow wow! Look who has taken up residence at the Engeman Theater in Northport! It’s Junie B. Jones, the outspoken and lovable six-year-old from the pages of Barbara Park’s best-selling children’s books starring in Junie B. Jones The Musical. The delightful show, which opened last Saturday, runs through Aug. 28.
Created by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, the play is an adaptation of four of Park’s books where Junie B. Jones navigates the ups and downs of first grade at Clarence Elementary School. When her mother gives her a Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal on her first day of school, Junie B. decides to record the school year and before long is filling the pages with her many adventures.
While Junie B. is under the impression that things will be no different than last year, they are very different. In her first week, she finds that her best friend from kindergarten Lucille has found two new best friends – Camille and Chenille – because their names rhyme; the girl who she used to sit with in on the bus in kindergarten prefers to sit with someone else; she makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school; and she finds that she has trouble reading the blackboard — and she may need glasses. Grrrr.
Add in the friendly cafeteria lady Mrs. Gutzman, a new lunchbox, Show & Tell, and an intense kickball tournament and you have the makings of a lovely morning of live theater.
Directed by Danny Meglio with musical direction by Luca Iallondardi and choreography by Jillian Sharpe, the six-member adult cast embrace the adorable script and transport back in time to elementary school and all the anxieties and life lessons that go with it.
Katie Dolce is perfectly cast as Junie B. Jones. From the minute she appears on stage, all eyes are on her and she quickly becomes an audience favorite with her sassy personality.
The incredible and versatile supporting cast — Daniel Bishop, Miranda Jo DeMott, Olivia Giorgio, Thomas Higgins and Alyssa Infranco — play multiple roles throughout the show including Junie B’s parents, her teacher Mr. Scary, her friends and classmates and seem to be having the time of their lives.
The fun-filled songs are the heart of the show, from the opening number “Top Secret Personal Beeswax” to the group finale, “Writing Down the Songs of My Life,” and are perfectly executed with special mention to the kickline number, “Gladys Gutzman.”
Funny, entertaining and entirely relatable, Junie B. Jones The Musical is a summer treat for young children and parents alike.
Sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, the John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Junie B. Jones The Musical on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Running time is 1 1/2 hours with one intermission. Tickets are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.