‘Junie B. Jones’ comes to NCC
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media March 14, 2013 11:26AM
"Junie B. Jones" will be at North Central College on March 16. | File photo
‘Junie B. Jones’
♦ March 16
♦ North Central’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
♦ Tickets, $5-$10
♦ (630) 637-7469
Updated: March 14, 2013 11:26AM
If you’ve got children, chances are good you’ve heard of Junie B. Jones.
Now kids and grown-ups can see her exploits with a live stage presentation of “Junie B. Jones” March 16 at North Central College in Naperville.
Two performances by TheatreWorks USA will be presented at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in North Central’s Pfeiffer Hall. For an additional $4 per ticket, patrons may add an ice cream reception, taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the day of the performance.
Junie B. Jones is the main character of the children’s book series by author Barbara Park and illustrator Denise Brunkus. This one-hour play follows three books in the series: “Junie B., First Grader (At Last), “Junie B., Boss of Lunch” and “Junie B., and the One-Man Band.” The show features lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Ziora Goldrich.
Maren Ritter of Novi, Mich., stars as Junie B. Jones.
“I’m so excited to come to Naperville. I love it there,” she said. “I have a friend who lives in Naperville. One of our cast mates is from there.”
She will be Junie B. from January through June. This is her first role with TheatreWorks USA; she just finished a run as Sister Bear in “The Berenstain Bears” off Broadway.
The books came out when she was a little older, but her younger sister “loved” them, she said.
“So I knew of her. When I was auditioning, I read the three books the play is based off of,” she said. “She’s 19 now, but those books still mean so much to her.”
In “First Grader at Last,” Junie B. tackles going into the first grade and getting glasses. In “Boss of Lunch,” she gets to be the lunch lady, wear a hair net and work in the school cafeteria. And in “One-Man Band,” an injury sidelines Junie B. from the big kickball game, so she joins the halftime show.
“I have so many moms that come up and say, ‘My kid wouldn’t read, so I got her Junie B. Jones books and she reads like crazy now,’” she said. “That’s really cool. We had a grandma who brought her granddaughter who had a high-functioning form of autism to the show, and she became like obsessed with Junie. She wrote me a letter and talked about how excited she was to be in her musical, ‘Annie.’”
Parents even tell her their kids are excited to put on their glasses because Junie B. has them.
Kids in the audience will laugh when Junie B. stands up to her teacher, Mr. Scary. They think it’s hilarious when some of the boys in the cast dress like girls.
“I think my favorite part about the show that I’ve found is that because Junie is so feisty and she’s not afraid to feel her emotions, that’s why the kids relate to it so well,” she said. “It’s not campy and it’s not animals onstage. It’s a real first grader.”
There are a lot of songs in the show, and dancing as well.
“I have a lot of fun when parents are there with their kids, because there are a lot of jokes that the adults will get too,” she said. “You’ll see kids look up at their parents when I get sassy with my parents. You’ll see the kid look up at their mom like, ‘Yep, I’ve done that.’ It’s just really cute.”
Audiences can expect a lot of funny moments and sass from the heroine, she said.