junie_b_jones

Members of Penn's Stimulus Children's Theater performed a free community show at a local elementary school on Oct. 23.

Photo: Claris Park

Over the weekend, a student theater group brought a childhood literary classic to life.

At a local elementary school on Oct. 23, members of Penn’s Stimulus Children’s Theatre Company, or STIM, performed numbers from their upcoming fall show “Junie B. Jones: The Musical” as their community show. With upbeat song and dance numbers, the cast brought smiles and laughter to both students and teachers.

The community show is a concept that is unique to STIM, in which the cast and crew of the current STIM show travel to a local elementary school­ — the name of which was asked to be withheld — and perform about half of their play. It is treated as just as important as their full performance dates.

Nursing junior Jackie Nikpour currently serves as STIM’s Community Service chair and organized the community show.

“We plan it as early as possible, so that during auditions, we can ask if actors can be there since it’s really important that everyone in the cast can be there,” Nikpour said.

Show director and Nursing junior Christopher Haddad said that the community show is great because it allows STIM to both share their work with more individuals and gauge their own progress.

“They’re always great because you get a sense of what it’s like to act in front of an audience before the show, sense of kid’s reactions to certain things, what is appropriate and what is inappropriate,” he said. “It’s great practice and just great to perform for Philadelphia schools.”

Throughout the performance, students laughed loudly at the characters and their personalities, snapped or swayed along with the beat of the music and visibly melted at particularly heartfelt moments between Junie B. — played by College senior Grayce Hoffman — and Herb, played by sophomore exchange student Hyunwoo Jeong. In a particularly noteworthy moment, College junior Derek Arbige donned a costume stuffed with pillows to play Ms. Gutzman.

“It’s really just being able to work with the kids and seeing them smile [...] and giving them a piece of joy and allowing them to experience the love that I have for performing and for theater,” STIM Vice Chair and Producer Pearl Lo, who is also a College junior, said.

After the show, children giggled and waved goodbye as the cast hauled their costumes and props back to Penn’s campus. They waved back at the children, and Haddad said he was happy with the group’s progress.

“I think it went really well,” he said.

STIM will perform the full version of “Junie B. Jones: The Musical” on Nov. 19, 20 and 21.

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