Junie B. Jones – The Musical
Book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler
Music by Zina Goldrich
Direction and Musical Direction by Justin Scarlat
Choreographed by Iris M. Johnson
Starring Briana Betancourt, Nadia Schult and Josiah Betancourt
Winter Park FL
First grade can be a living heck, until you make a friend. In this high energy and fast moving pean to kidness, we follow precocious Junie B. Jones (Brianna Betancourt) as she works though her awkwardness, gets her eyes fixed, and leans how to manage a lunch room. As we may all recall everything is a crisis at that age, and every crisis in musical theater is a chance for a great vocal work out. There were zero dud songs here, from the opening “Top Secret Personal Bees Wax” to the big breakthrough acceptance number “You Need Glasses” to Josiah Betancourt’s brilliant “Sheldon Pott’s Half time show.” While Junie takes center stage most of the time, her supporting actors do great work as well. Larry Stalling’s “Mr. Scary” forced Mr. Stalling into the role of evil, but it’s more a cranky anger due to lumbago and a class of first graders. The other adult presence is Lunch Lady Mrs. Gitzman (Marian L. Dunham). She struggles to bring tasty and nourishing meals to these rug rats who prefer sugar cookies to tuna casserole. I’m down with that. This show flies along, there’s about an hour of action and a cookie break with Annie Hair’s baked goods for sale in the lobby. Kid friendly and adult satisfying, Jones energy will appeal to young and old. Heck, I even liked it.