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Review: Junie B. Jones

While the adjective "quirky" has become a bit of a dirty word of late, it's both apt and a compliment when applied to this delightful adaptation of Barbara Park's popular series of books. In TheatreworksUSA's second revival of Junie B. Jones, the 60-minute musical chronicles the misadventures of the plucky title heroine (Jennifer Cody, who's a riot) as she tackles her biggest challenge in life: first grade.

 

 

Junie B. Jones

 

Whether pining for the good old days of kindergarten, navigating the grade-school social scene or experiencing her first crush on school chum Herbert (the adorable Blake Ginther), Jones charms her peers in the audience as well as their parents. She's manic, melodramatic and grammatically challenged, in short, a lot like a real-life six-year old. The six-person cast is top-notch (and not afraid to camp it up, when appropriate) ,and the songs of cabaret stalwarts Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich are eclectic and sophisticated. It may not be the "bestest" musical ever (to borrow Jones' parlance), but it's a welcome change to the often condescending kids' show fare.

--Raven Snook

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