One would not have known children from the PAAC (Portsmouth Area Arts Council) show Junie B. Jones were disappointed or down in the dumps, as they put on a show at their dress rehearsal for parents Wednesday evening.
The young actors and actresses for the show had been informed Tuesday that their show for the upcoming weekend had been canceled due to the worry of the coronavirus.
Sam Fowler, Executive Director PAAC stated that both he and Bailey Hartlage, had been in several meetings with Shawnee State University, where the show was to take place and had to deliver the sad news to Caroline Clay, the visiting director for Junie B. Jones that she would have to deliver the news to the actors that for now the show was canceled for this weekend.
“It was not easy, but it was a thing that we didn’t have a choice and a lot of thought went into it,” Fowler said, “We had meetings with SSU constantly the past couple of days, we had everything played out and this is what we needed to do and we all think it was the right decision. We are working on rescheduling things to potentially having the show.”
Fowler continued that they had more than 2,000 students scheduled to see the show.
“People need to know we have one, the kids best interest first and we have a plan to go and we should know final details on that as soon as possible,” Fowler said,
“It was definitely a stressful situation last night because it was two days until our first show and we had to change up some plans immediately so that does get hard especially for kiddos that have worked for weeks and weeks on the show,” Clay said. “Bottom line, we know that health comes first and the safety of the public comes first and we want to make sure we can put on the best show possible and if that means we have to wait a couple of weeks to put it on, then so be it. It was one of the hardest speeches I had to give and I didn’t want to have to disappoint the kids.”
Clay continued, “To be honest I am so proud of these kids and they have made a terrific show and I know it’s with my help, but at this point, my job is pretty much finished. And while I would love to be here to see how the show goes and see the culmination of my hard work, its more at this point to make sure these kids get to perform. I have directed the show to the best of my ability and it is a good show.”
When asked if she felt that the children may forget their lines while they wait to get to perform the show, she said, “I don’t worry about the kids, they are like sponges, even more so than adults, they will soak up, a lot of these kids could tell me every line of their favorite movie, every word in things they watch.”
She also shared that they will have a chance to do a couple pick up rehearsals just to make sure they not only remember the lines, but also the dance moves, where to walk, stand or other things. As for their performance that Wednesday evening, she said she thought the kids would do a great job that the adrenaline was pumping and the kids can feed off all that energy with having an audience, even if it was just the parents.
Speaking with Abby King, Junie B. Jones and Jeffery Keaton, Sheldon, about how they felt about the show being canceled, both said they were very disappointed and King said she cried. She said that her dad told her some other people could have been given such terrible news like cancer or death and that it made her think.
“I am happy that we are able to do the show tonight,” Keaton said.
King has been in many PAAC shows before, but this is Keaton’s first. Both of them happen to be fifth-graders at Valley Middle School. They both said they love PAAC and playing in Junie B.
When asked if they thought that SSU had done the right thing in not putting on the show King added, “I think that maybe they should have waited until the test results came in and if they were positive that they did, then I would have understood.”
Keaton said, “If they would have waited for the test results to come in then maybe that would have changed the Governer’s mind about having the crowds together. He made the statement, so now we can’t change it. One more day and we could have had the show.”
King then spoke about getting to play Junie B. Jones, “I’m excited, I am in every scene and I sing a lot. I’m good at learning lines and I think they will stick even while we are waiting to hear about when the show will go on.”
Keaton added, “I have my own solo song about Sheldon. The lines will just stick with me too.”
Folks can look forward to seeing the show in the future, as this show has over 60 kids who have put in some very long hours to put on at the dress rehearsal, a great show with some very good actors and actresses.
King is spectacular playing her role as Junie B. Jones, her acting abilities and experience onstage shows through as she talks and sings her way on the stage flawlessly. Keaton, who plays the part of Sheldon brings out his character in such a great humorous form and is as good as any show one might see.
Nicole Hughes, who plays May a brat who is Junie B.’s greatest bother, once again plays this little brat so well, Hughes never seems to not bring out a character’s best when playing them in the PAAC shows. One really will enjoy this character and what Hughes brings out in her.
Andrew Sessor, who plays Mr. Scary, has this role down pat and does make one see just how kids might call him Mr. Scary. Sessor, who has lots of experience in PAAC, moves around the stage as if he’s done it a million times before and enjoys the theater and its fun. Sessor’s sister, Abbi plays the much-beloved character of Mrs. Gutzman. Sessor said about playing Mrs. Gutzman, the cafeteria lady, “Putting on the show was a blast. Playing Mrs. Gutzman was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Getting to be loud and fun onstage was a dream come true!” And fun she is, with a much patted down behind that goes with the song that says her heart is as big as her behind.
Not to be forgotten, as some of the great portrayal of characters, Tad Coriell, who plays the bus driver, who Junie B. literally drives crazy plays the uptight driver with such skill. Also, Luke Brumfield, Herb, who is Junie B.’s sidekick and best friend does an excellent job and both he and King work so well together. Other notable characters are Mark Oiler, the dad and Macyn Johnson, the mom, along with all the rest of this cast bring forth a show, that is just waiting to be performed as soon as it can possibly be done.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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