Tuesday, September 27, 2016

reviews - JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK - Childsplay

Tommy Strawser, Rudy Ramirez, Kate Hass, Debra K. Strevens, and Jamie Sandomire
photo: Tim Trumble
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 16th.

"...Junie B has a problem. Someone at school has stolen her black furry mittens which were made out of lots of furry fur, and Junie B is calling 911....based on two of Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones children’s book series, Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook ...(gives) the kindergartner not one but two valuable life lessons to ponder as she grows closer to being an “almost six year-old.”...the ever ebullient Junie B (Kate Haas) introduces us to some of her fellow classmates, including Grace (Racquel McKenzie) who possesses Junie’s favorite type of hair (it’s “automatically curly”), and Lucille (Jamie Sandomire) who happens to be the richest girl in the school (not including tax).  Then there’s the boys; Meanie Jim (Tommy Strawser) and Ricardo (Rudy Ramirez), plus the teacher in charge of Room Nine known only as Mrs. (Debra K. Stevens who also directs). ...With careful attention to detail and clearly a huge amount of affection for Barbara Park’s characters, playwright Gregory has combined two individual plots and weaved them into one. Junie’s on-going dilemma of what should always be the right thing to do now requires double the effort.  ...the new boy in town, Handsome Warren (Vinny Chavez). Junie kind of likes him and wants to make her best impression when he’s around, but Handsome Warren is not so sure about Junie, especially when she comes across as such a “nutball.” Missing mittens and a handsome new guy who thinks she’s odd?  The conflicts of kindergarten life just keep growing.... the real fun is observing the approach professional adult actors have when playing five year-olds.  ..Katie Haas has such a gloriously fun time as Junie B and plays it with all the conviction of a confused five year-old you can’t help but play along with her.
..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Kindergartner Junie B. Jones isn’t having a very good day. Not only has someone stolen her brand new fluffy mittens but Warren, the new boy in her school, doesn’t seem to want to be her boyfriend. Fortunately for us, Junie’s horrible predicament makes for a richly entertaining play full of life lessons for children of all ages. Childsplay presents the world premiere of Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook, based on two “Junie B.” books by Barbara Park, which proves to be another success for this company as it celebrates the start of its 40th season....While the focus of the piece is mainly on Junie B.’s search for her missing mittens, (Allison) Gregory does a good job in providing plenty of humor to the piece, both for children and adults, as well as ensuring that Junie learns from her experiences. The inclusion of the issues of right and wrong in dealing with what to do when you find something that doesn’t belong to you as well as how to interact with kids who are new to your school to make sure they feel included are simple yet incredibly effective lessons for younger children to learn.  Director Debra K. Stevens and her superb cast do an exceptional job in making us believe that these adult actors are all kindergartners. Kate Haas is simply sensational as Junie B. She is virtually on stage for the entire show and her energy level never falters. She perfectly gets across the rambunctious nature of this young girl in a realistic way. Anyone who has ever been around an inquisitive kindergartner will immediately identify, and find a lot of humor, with Haas’ superb portrayal....Vinny Chavez is Warren, the handsome new boy that Junie falls for, and he gets some very good moments where he poignantly shows the loneliness that a new kid can feel when his family moves into a new school district. Stevens plays Junie B.’s teacher and mother in a touching but firm and effective way....Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook shows how simple little things like losing one’s mittens can become what seem like gigantic issues for a child. But it also proves that when you be yourself and do the right thing it can make what seems something giant actually be something very small. And you might be able to make a new friend in the process as well. With an excellent performance from Kate Hass and a well written and well-paced adaptation from Allison Gregory, Childsplay’s production starts off their 40th season in a very winning way. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"Small things loom large in a child’s eyes, and that’s a truth captured beautifully in...“Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook” ...Junie...played with rambunctious charm by Kate Haas... also explores the challenge of making friends as Junie and her gal pals vie for the attention of the new kid in school, Handsome Warren (Vinny Chavez), who turns out to have troubles of his own...." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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