Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells Review - Winter Family Entertainment

Amber Robinson as Junie B. Jones

One joy of parenting is the rediscovering of favorite childhood wonders.  For me it was a delight to realize that Super Fudge is no less funny at thirty eight than it was at eight.  It is even more exciting when one is introduced to a new character that would have been completely unheard of if one’s daughter had not discovered it first.  Such is the case with Junie B. Jones.

Aaron Lawson as Herb

I love Junie B. Jones.  Junie B. is like Judy Moody’s less polished cousin.  Whereas Judy Moody has a coherent and focused voice, Junie B. relates her stories in an almost non-stop stream of conscious where grammar needs are secondary to making a point (and also often elicits the big laugh).  While Judy Moody sometimes almost gets in trouble, Junie B. is almost always in trouble and might even be a little troubled herself.   One imagines that teachers enjoy having Judy in class but will talk about Junie B. for years and years. 

Samantha Perry and cast

So it was fitting that I accompanied my daughter and her Girl Scout troop to Junie B. Jones:  Jingle Bells Batman Smells at the Apollo Theater.  While more Judy than Junie B., this troop has been known to be a little mischievous at times.  They also love a good laugh and I am happy to say that Jingle Bells, Batman Smells delivers in that department.  Besides the expected punch lines, the play also displayed some physical over the top humor guaranteed to entertain the average eight year old.  The girls of Troop Number 20636 had a good time.

Samantha Perry as May

I am not as confident that Jingle Bells, Batman Smells would entertain the average parent.  The play only knows one speed and that speed is crazy manic loud.  Amber Robinson as Junie B. Jones delivers almost every line as a scream.  The same is mostly true for Samantha Perry who played Junie B. Jones’ nemesis MayAnderson Lawfer (as Junie B. Jones’ teacher Mr. Scary) adds some nuances to his character and at times does a good job of using his face to communicate just how exasperated he is with his class.  And who can blame him?  Every child in Junie B. Jones classroom is always moving.  One student, Lucille (played by Kaitlyn Griggs) even does cartwheels time to time.  The other students, Sheldon, Jose, and Herb (played by Ricky Harris, Michael Leon, and Aaron Lawson) are also strong characters who can try even the most seasoned teacher.

Anderson Lawfer and Kaitlyn Griggs

The story is good, maybe even classic.  Junie B. Jones seriously considers placing coal in May’s stocking and thinks that this might make Santa proud.  The tension in the play is whether Junie B. acts out this plan or, instead, gives up her own favorite toy to May.  By trying to making every scene funny and every character memorable the play succeeds in making children laugh, but loses sight of the story.   A little Ritalin might have done the children, and the play, well.

Ricky Harris as Sheldon

Bottom line:  Junie B. Jones Jingle Bells, Batman Smells is somewhat recommended.  Children will find it enjoyable, but maybe not their parents.  To buy tickets click below:  http://www.emeraldcitytheatre.com/shows_1112_juniebjones.php

Parking and other details:  If patient, street parking is attainable.  There also was a self-park pay lot adjacent to the theater.  Two doors down from the Apollo Theater on the corner of Wrightwood and Lincoln is the Savor the Flavor Coffee House.  We enjoyed the home made soup and a breakfast “croissini” just prior to the show.  Prices were family friendly.

All photos provided by the Junie B. Jones Jingle Bells, Batman Smells production   

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