By Rachel Gergetz, Current Staff
The upcoming play “Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook” is a novelty for the West Bend High Schools.
For the first time in 11 years, the WBHS Drama Club is putting on a play specifically geared toward children. Also new this year, the play will be performed during the school day to allow nearby elementary schools to bring their students.
The schools currently planning to attend Friday’s matinee are Decorah Elementary School and Fair Park Elementary School from West Bend, and schools from Germantown and Port Washington.
Director Tonya Fordham decided on a play with a younger audience because of the many requests over the years.
“I chose ‘Junie B. Jones’ because in the 12 seasons, or 11 years, that I’ve been doing this, I’ve been asked over and over again, ‘Are you doing anything for kids? Do you have anything for kids?,’” Fordham said.
“We all feel very connected to the story and character of Junie B.”
– Lily Mottet, West junior
Although the play is directed toward children, the script promises to be entertaining and engaging for adults as well, including subtle hints and layers of a higher level of thinking. For example, in the play, Junie B. makes a reference to Picasso that adults may find amusing.
“‘Junie B. Jones’ is targeted at kids entirely, which is different because the high school has never done a show that is entirely directed at kids,” said West junior Cydney Bunk, who plays the lead role of Junie B. “Even shows like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ although they both had children in mind, the script still kept a maturity to the show with the way the characters were described and the voice used for each of them. This script is written in the same voice as Barbara Park wrote the books and with the same energy that makes every character in the show a joy to watch and honestly a blast to portray.”
The “Junie B. Jones” production is much different from last year’s play, “House of the Seven Gables.” Much of the cast and crew grew up reading the “Junie B. Jones” series, so participating in this production means something personal to each of them.
“It is definitely a very different experience from last year’s show,” said Lily Mottet, a West junior playing the role of Mother. “Last year was a very complicated, dialogue-heavy script and this one is a very light-hearted and silly show. A large majority of the children who are coming have read the books or have had the parents read the books to them. Most of the cast has, too, so we all feel very connected to the story and character of Junie B.”
“Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook” shows 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Nov. 16 and 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Nov. 17. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. There will be an ice cream bar and a meet and greet with the cast after the show.
(Top image: The cast of “Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook” during rehearsal. Photo by McKenna Garvey, East junior and the production’s student director.)