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Review: Funny 'Junie B. Jones' connected with kids

Posted Monday, Jan. 30, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Admittedly, I didn't have read-alongs with my stepson during his Junie B. Jones phase. Sure, I knew he was interested in the popular Barbara Park series about a precocious first-grader's adventures but they didn't hit a chord with him like "The Magic Treehouse" books did. So when I arrived at the musical version at Bass Hall Sunday afternoon, I wasn't sure what to expect. However, I did bring along reinforcement in the form of my stepson's 7-year-old sister who was quite familiar with all things Junie B.

The good: The fast-paced musical quickly got the audience engaged. Junie B. (played with gusto by Abby Leigh Rose) hits the stage with her trademark: "My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." Then, the company goes through snippets of first-grade life -- from the first day of school, riding on the bus, school lunchroom and the important Kickball Tournament.

The bad: Some of the musical numbers were plagued by sound and feedback problems.  

What kids liked: Adults playing children could turn terribly wrong. But the cast of Junie B. did a fabulous job of channeling their inner-kids and making the situations seems believable to an audience made up of mostly girls, 10 and younger. The men of the troupe (Preston Maguire, Charles Baskerville and Kyshawn Lane) were in great form and spirit when playing first-grade girls, whether they were leading cheers or singing about names that rhyme. Lane was a standout as poor, allergic Sheldon, who was a favorite for the 7-year-old.

What parents liked: At times, the musical felt like a sing-along around me. The children were responding to the characters on the stage as if they were taking directly to them. What's great about the family series at the Bass Hall is that it allows parents to introduce theater to their children in a fun, non-stuffy way. The video screens in the lobby also provided a great option for parents with fussy kids to enjoy the musical without disturbing their neighbors.

Hit or miss? Definitely a hit. Be sure to check out the other events in the Bass Hall Family Series
For more info on Junie B. Jones, go to http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/junieb/

Next Up in the Bass Hall Family Series
Doktor Kaboom
Doktor Kaboom is an interactive one-man science variety show.
When: 4 p.m., Sunday, April 29
Where: Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
Cost: $22
Info: www.basshall.com

Rhythmic Circus - Feet Don't Fail Me Now
An innovative dance company known for transforming their tap shoes into instruments of rhythm.
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 13
Where: Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
Cost: $38.50
Info: www.basshall.com

Upcoming family-friendly events at Bass Hall
Imagination Movers
Stars of their own self-titled Disney Junior TV show, the Imagination Movers play and write rock 'n roll children's songs.
When: 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., March 10
Where: Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
Cost: $18.70-$44
Info: www.basshall.com

Mary Poppins
The high-flying musical features the unforgettable songs from one of the most popular Disney films of all time, plus brand-new breathtaking dance numbers and spectacular stage-craft.
When: 8 p.m., March 27; 7:30 p.m., March 28; 7:30 p.m., March 29; and 8 p.m., March 30
Where: Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
Cost: Single tickets sales to be announced
Info: www.basshall.com

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