Marriott Theatre Presents JUNIE B. JONES, THE MUSICAL Review – Laugh in the Aisles, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Best Play Pick, Through August 11th, 2019
Making new friends, getting your very first pair of glasses, and learning that “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” are just a few of the lessons Junie B. Jones encounters in this light-hearted family friendly musical. Whether you’re a fan of the book series by Barbara Park or are new to Junie B. and her antics, adults and children of all ages find themselves laughing in the aisles over the quirky and endearing first grader and the colorful cast of characters that surround her.
On this Sunday morning’s performance of Junie B. Jones, The Musical, the in-the-round style seating that the Marriott Theatre boasts allows for full access of the performance from every angle. The close proximity to the actors makes for a real up close and personal experience and allows the performers to often look their audience members right in the eye as they dance and sing just inches from their seats, leaving the youngest members of the audience giddy with excitement.
The story of Junie B. Jones’ first days of first grade unfolds on stage, adopting several quotes straight from the beloved books. Junie B. is also joined by other familiar characters from the book series such as Lucille, Mr. Scary and “That Grace”. With creative use of props and multimedia (designed by Anthony Churchill), the small stage seamlessly and minimalistically transforms from the classroom to the playground, to Junie B.’s home. From brightly colored costumes (designed by Amanda Vander Byl), energetic songs used to drive the story forward, and a cast that has a knack for holding its audience’s attention with over-the-top facial expressions and funny dance moves, it’s hard not to want to get out of your seat and dance along!
In this writer’s view, both adults and children can take away something from Junie B., as the audacious six-year-old navigates fitting in, learning from her mistakes and how to never give up on her dreams. By the end of the hour long performance it was clear that everyone in the room, both actors and audience, are invested in the plot and smiles and laughter radiate around the circular auditorium.
Directly following curtain call the actors waste no time in diving into a short question and answer session. A tradition of productions for young audiences at the Marriott, the question and answer session is geared towards children. The actors explain how they learned their parts, who helped them put on a show, how they make such fast quick changes, and any other question a child interested in the magic of the production might want to know.
While this production is perfect for children, the adults in the theater were given a comedic, musical treat as well from the talented cast of Junie B. Jones, The Musical.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Directed and Choreographed by Johanna McKenzie Miller
Musical Direction by Ellen Morris
Elizabeth Telford (Junie B. Jones), Lydia Burke (May and Chenille), Rashada Dawan (Mom, Mrs. Gutzman, Grace and Camille), Jackson Evans (Sheldon), Adam LaSalle (Daddy, Mr. Scary, Mr. Woo), Garrett Lutz (Herb), Allision Sill (Lucille)
set design by Rachel Rauscher, lighting design by Aaron Lorenz, costume design by Amanda Vander Byl, sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin, media design by Anthony Churchill and Nick Coso, and musical supervision by Patti Garwood
Through August 11th, 2019
(Most) Wednesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m.
Note: certain performances at 12:30 p.m. – check box office
10 Marriott Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
Jenny Oelerich hails from Winnetka, Illinois and earned a BFA in Dance at the University of Illinois in Spring of 2019. During her time as an undergrad she had the privilege of working with Jan Erkert, Renee Wadleigh, and Abby Zbikowski among others. Jenny is an artist and dance teacher with students ranging from 3 years old to adults, and has recently earned her 200 hour yoga teacher certification under Linda Lehovec. Since graduating, Jenny has re-located back to the Chicagoland area.