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A CurtainUp Review
Junie B. Jones
By Julia Furay
Jennifer Cody as the spunky Junie takes us through her adventures in first grade. These include making new friends, riding the bus, getting new glasses and participating in the school kickball tournament. Except fpr Cody all of the actors double and triple up to play colorful characters like the snack lady Gladys Gutzman (John Scherer), Junie's ex-best friend Lucille (Shannon Antalan), Junie's current best friend Herb (Blake Ginther), nerdy kid Sheldon (Randy Aaron), budding control freak May (Spelling Bee's Sarah Saltzman), and several more.
Most refreshingly, director Peter Flynn has resisted most of the cloying faux-childish mugging often found in a young people show. Instead the actors give honest and energetic performances, the choreography (by Devanand Janki) is consistently inventive, and the set (Luke Hegel-Cantarella) is simple but with some nice surprises.
Of course, what really brings the show to life are the book and score. Marcy Heisler (book and lyrics) and Zina Goldrich (music) are a talented duo. The nicely crafted lyrics are not too clever for the kids, not too simple for the adults. The songs are appealing and melodic. Heisler and Goldrich will l be making their Broadway debut next year (in a musical version of the movie Ever After), so Junie can be seen as a very promising precursor.
This marks Junie's third return to the Lortel, all directed by Peter Flynn. The 2004 run was extended into a two-act version n in 2005. This year tje sjpw os back to one act and 60 minutes, which is probably best. Certainly not too long for wither kids or their parents to get antsy.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
The Playbill Broadway YearBook
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide