CSU Staging 'Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business'

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Through the eyes of a child, the world can be a strange and wondrous place — where kindergarten is a place to make new friends and not watch TV and your new baby brother could very well be a monkey. Such is the world according to Junie B. Jones, as the CSU Department of Theatre brings the children’s book character to life in its first performance of the new year.

Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, as adapted by Joan Cushing, takes the stage 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 21-23 and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 23-24 at the Theatre on the Park Mainstage in downtown Columbus.

Director Brenda May Ito said children and adults of all ages can relate to, and empathize with, Junie’s (Caroline Garcia) predicaments. “Barbara Park created the unique character of Junie B. Jones and was really able to address issues that confront a child of Junie’s age, whether it’s what to take to show and tell or wondering if she’ll still be number one in her parents’ eyes when the new baby comes,” she said.

The show also provides an opportunity for the cast and crew to recreate and relive the adventures of childhood.

“Half of the cast are theatre education majors, so they have had a chance to be in classrooms recently with elementary students and really gleaned a lot from observing this age group,” said May, a professor of theatre. “The actors find delight and wonderment in revisiting what it is like to fit in and find your place.”

Junie B. Jones play cast For fans of the Junie B. Jones book series, the musical production takes audiences from the page to the stage, which is what May likes most about the play.

“Joan Cushing, the adaptor of the musical, is extremely good at keeping the musical true to the book,” she said. “Children are so familiar with the Junie B. Jones series that it is imperative to stick with the book as much as possible. Cushing is also very good at creating a production that speaks not only to children, but also to adults.”

Audiences will also discover that costume and set design were influenced by the book’s illustrations. “The main difference is that this is a musical, so the songs really carry us more into the emotional side of the characters, and we are able to understand more about them as people,” said May.

Young audiences throughout Georgia will have a chance to enjoy the production as the show begins touring Jan. 26 through the end of April. Currently, 56 performances are booked.

To some, performing for kids could be a daunting task as children can be an honest and sometimes critical audience. May, however, has the secret recipe to a successful show.

“Children want the same things in a play, musical or movie that adults do — a good story, compelling characters and some action,” she said. “Children can spot a fake in a heartbeat. Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business is a very well-rounded family show with delightful songs and witty dialogue. I tell the actors to do what they do for every character they play in theatre — analyze and be true to the character; don’t be fake.”

Ticket prices are $10 for general admission, $5 for senior citizens, children, active military personnel and CSU alumni, and free for faculty and staff (limit two) and students (limit one) with CSU ID. Call the theatre box office at 706-507-8444 or go to http://theatre.colstate.edu/ for more information.