by Jessica Tharaud
Groups of young children excitedly run around the Little Theatre, scribbling with colored chalk on a blackboard perched against the wall. Instead of the usual crowd of high schoolers, ten and 11-year-olds dominate the audience with their bright smiles and tinkling laughs. This is “Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” a play based on the Barbara Park book of the same name and a Theatre Ink show like no other. The play, directed by Melissa Bernstein, opened with a show last night at 7 p.m. and will close with another performance today at 2 p.m.
To create the show, Theatre Ink collaborated with the Newton Theatre Company, and so the play included many members of the community. The actors included students from both North and South, middle-schoolers, and adults, who all joined together to put on a vibrant and entertaining show. The sense of excitement and community was palpable throughout, from the actors to the children and parents in the audience, making this play a truly fun experience.
The play opens with Junie B. Jones, played superbly by freshman Maddy Ranalli, introducing herself and narrating her day. Jones is a ball of energy, vivacious, stubborn, and loud–the type of kid who has a meltdown when she does not receive what she wants. As a result, the play revolves around the reactions of others to Jones’s antics and, in particular, to her insistence on always winning games. Her peers quickly grow tired of her selfishness and her parents always seem exhaustedly aggravated with her for not doing as they say.
She throws a tantrum after realizing that she is not, in fact, the “bestest game winner” and dedicates herself to winning as many prizes as possible at the upcoming carnival. But, of course, things do not always go as planned, paving the way for a turbulent yet very entertaining series of events at the carnival that culminate with the entrance of the titular fruitcake.
From the acting to the dialogue to the costumes, every part of this show was a joy to watch. “Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” is a delightful, warm-hearted play that successfully brings a childhood book to life.
Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door or on Theatre Ink’s website.