Junie B. brings holiday cheer

Emma Eldred, staff writer

Based on the children’s novel written by Barbara Park, Stages Theatre Company brings “Junie B. Jones First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells (P.S. So Does May)” to the stage for its local debut. Playing through December 27, the play teaches the timeless lesson of giving and selflessness during the holiday season.

Disagreeing with her teacher and getting in fights with her classmates (especially, blabbermouth May), Junie B. Jones is your typical trouble-maker. As the holiday season rolls around, Mr. Scary, Junie B.’s teacher, announces that it’s time to get ready for the Secret Santa gift exchange and Junie B. gets stuck with May. With only five dollars to spend, Junie B. shops for her family and her Secret Santa at the school gift shop, where she finds the greatest toy ever invented: the Squeeze-a Burp.

Playing Junie B. is 11 year old Taylor McGahn. Her short stature and innocent voice make her easily relatable to the young audience and captures the full essence of Junie B., embodying the role of Junie B. wonderfully.

Popping up from time to time throughout the show is the Elf Commercial Chorus featuring BSM senior Shannon Cron as Elf Ellen. This is Cron’s fourth show at Stages. Some of her previous roles have included the Ferryman in “The Shadow Thieves,” and Ruth in “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

The homemade set of the first grade classroom is presented on an inclined stage which allows the audience to have a clear view of every actor, even when they are seated in rows of desks. With lots of sound effects, lighting, and musical cues, the tech crew keeps up with the fast pace of the show.

Most of the child actors at Stages participate in two to three of the eight shows that Stages produces each year. Known as the “Stages Kids,” these young actors around the metro area band together with a common love of cheesy, quirky, and educational children’s plays.

In keeping with the holiday season, “Junie B. Jones First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells (P.S. So Does May)” spreads the spirit of giving through an innocent and adorable show for all ages.