Junie B. Jones — the star of a best-selling children’s book series by author Barbara Park — has proven to be a popular local theater character, too.
The Lakeside Players are bringing back the “sassy pants” young girl in “Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook,” after successful Junie B. Jones shows in 2015 and 2017 that featured the character’s other adventures.
The shows are part of the community theater group’s Family Theatre Series.
Junie B. Jones is a feisty know-it-all whose books are a staple in elementary schools worldwide.
“She has this outgoing, funny personality,” play director Jenifer Cooper said. “She’s a lot of fun. She wears bright colors and mismatched socks.”
In this show, the spunky character is in kindergarten.
“The plot has two things going on,” Cooper said. “First, Junie B. loses her black furry mittens. She was wearing them to school, even though it’s not winter, because she loves them so much. When she realizes they are gone, she looks in the lost-and-found, but they aren’t there. Instead, she finds a pen that changes colors and decides to keep it.”
When another little girl is spotted wearing the furry mittens, June B. gets upset “and she realizes that if you find something, you need to turn it in; you don’t get to keep something that isn’t yours.”
The other message in the story, Cooper said, is about “being authentic. Junie B. tries to impress Handsome Warren, the new kid in class, by getting all dressed up so he’ll notice her, but she learns that it’s better to just be herself.”
All the Junie B. books, Cooper said, “are full of good life lessons for kids. And they are very funny, too.”
The cast features nine youths — from age 10 to a sophomore in high school — and six adults, with Philip Jaeger, who played Junie B.’s teacher Mr. Scary in the previous Lakeside shows, playing the school principal this time.
“He’s been in all the Junie B. shows, and we’re so lucky to have him back,” Cooper said.
The Hall family is well represented in this show, too, with dad Chris Hall playing Grandpa and siblings Caitlyn Hall, as the prissy girl Lucille, and Colin Hall, playing Handsome Warren.
“This is the first time all three have been in a show together,” Cooper said. “Chris is returning to the stage after many years.”
To make this even more of a Hall family project, mom Crystal Hall is helping with the choreography.
Also returning is Cooper, who has directed all three Junie B. shows here. Her daughter, Sarah
Ankney, played the title role in the first two productions. This time, however, there’s a new actress, Addison Wytonick, taking on the character.
The Junie B. shows are so popular, Cooper said, “because the stories are funny, and we do a good job of bringing the story to life. The sets are colorful and bright, and the show is just a really good time at the theater. I hope this show will be as popular as the other ones were.”
The show runs about 90 minutes with one intermission. All seats are general admission.