On December 5-7, The Paramount Theatre, with the University of Texas, produced our first play for young audiences, Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. Over the course of three days, we had almost 6,000 people come to the theatre to see the show. I have gotten nothing but positive feedback, and there is a chance that we may continue to produce this play each Christmas as a staple holiday show.
What made this event even more special was that after our run of the play, we were able to hire three of the actors to go to low income schools to do post show talkbacks. We offered this for free to seven schools. Along with using local actors and partnering with UT, being able to have the characters from the play visit schools was pretty special.
Below are some pictures from the performance and the work we did in Title I schools.
One teacher wrote: “I brought my 5th graders and they loved it so much. They wanted to go back the next day to see it again. Thank you so much for providing a great show at a wonderfully affordable price for my students.”
Another teacher wrote: “The performance was great! The students were highly engaged and entertained. The were able to understand the plot and they couldn’t wait to read the Junie B. Jones books.”
The students were literally breathless when they saw that Junie came to their school. A teacher later wrote that a student told her: “I was so surprised that I couldn’t even talk.”
Teachers have been e-mailing me about what a profound impact these visits had on their students. One teacher wrote: “My students were so overwhelmed. They told me they had never met a celebrity before. Almost every student wants to read the Junie B. Jones books after this experience.”
As you can imagine, students had a lot to ask Junie. There were a lot of great questions about how she felt during the play. You could tell the students really listened to the story.
Students brainstormed some reasons why Junie B. and May (Junie’s enemy in the play) might have trouble getting along for the rest of the school year. Here is a picture of some of the characters acting out one of the conflicts the students came up with.
A few lucky students got to act in a scene with Junie, May, and Jose! They gave them advice on how to get along. Here are some pictures of the students trying to convince May and Junie to apologize and shake hands.
Everyone was very excited to give Junie B. and her friends a high five or a hug at the end of the workshop! This was a very special experience for everyone involved. Here is one final quote we received from a teacher describing her students’ reactions to the workshop:
“Your visit to our school was so meaningful to the kids. They could not stop talking about meeting the ‘real’ characters and they loved getting to ask them questions. You presented in a way that was on their level so they could understand the characters better. It gave us a good idea what they remembered from the play and what they got out of it. They also got a lot from the problem solving situations that you all presented to them. Having them act with you was very special. Needless to say they all wanted to check out Junie B. Jones books at the next visit to the library!”