By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Adapted by composer-writer Joan Cushing from the popular series of chapter books by Barbara Park, Junie B. Jones finds the little girl and her friends, That Grace (Ashley S. Duplechain), Lucille (Lisa Schreiner), William (Karl Schaeffer) and Meanie Jim (Chad Patrick Smith), worrying over their first "show and tell" presentation. When her grandmother (Deborah Brown) declares that Junie's just-born baby brother is "the cutest little monkey you've ever seen," Junie takes it literally and announces to her class that she has a baby monkey for a sibling.
The theme of misunderstood metaphors and baffling idioms elicits big laughs from the peanut gallery at this show. "Kindergarten is where you go to make new friends and not watch TV," Junie declares. Also, "'We'll see' is another word for 'no.'" They go nuts at that.
Director-choreographer Nancy Schaeffer and her designers (scenic designer Randel Wright, lighting expert Linda Blase, costumer Leila Heise) paint the three connected stages in the Paul Baker Theater at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts with crayon-hued colors, big movement, and a pacing of images and action perfectly attuned to kid rhythms.
Mauritius continues at the Bath House Culture Center through September 26. Call 214-904-0500.
Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business continues at Dallas Childrenís Theater through November 1. Call 214-740-0051.
After each performance, the cast hits the lobby still in character to sign autographs and snap a pic with every child who wants one. At the first Saturday matinee, Miss Jain was mobbed like a rock star. Looks like she's already building a fan base.