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"Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" by Allison Gregory, at Childsplay in 2014. Pictured: Dwayne Hartford, Kaleena Newman, Kate Haas, Tyler Eglen, Carlos A. Lara, Yolanda London, and Tommy Strawser. (Photo by Tim Trumble)

Childsplay’s 2016-17 Season to Include ‘Junie B. Jones’ and ‘Cat in the Hat’

The season will feature musicals and stage adaptations of storybooks.

TEMPE, ARIZ.: Childsplay has announced its 2016-17 season, the company’s first under new artistic director Dwayne Hartford, who took over for longtime artistic director David Saar.

The season will begin with Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook (Sept. 11-Oct. 16) by Allison Gregory, adapted from the book series by Barbara Park. The story follows Junie B. Jones, a kindergartener, in a tale of lost and found.

Next up is Rock the Presidents (Oct. 22-Nov. 13), with book and lyrics by Dwayne Hartford and music by Sarah Roberts. The show is a non-partisan “rock and pop musical tribute to the 44 presidents of the United States.”

Following will be A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday (Nov. 19-Dec. 31), with book and lyrics by Jenny Millinger and music by Todd Hulet, adapted from the book A Very Hairy Christmas by Susan Lowell. Following three young siblings, the play involves gingerbread cookies, The Nutcracker, and “one very tricky coyote.”

Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat (Jan. 14-Feb. 19, 2017) comes next, written by Katie Mitchell and adapted from the book by Dr. Seuss. The play presents the well-known tale of the Cat in the Hat, Thing One, Thing Two, and a boring afternoon turned chaotic.

Next, The Yellow Boat (Feb. 26-March 12, 2017) by David Saar will tell the true story of a young artist named Benjamin, who died of AIDS-related complications at the age of 8 in 1987. Through his art, Benjamin is able to express his joys and his fears. First produced by Childsplay in 1992, the company is re-staging the play in honor of its 40th anniversary.

Following will be Interrupting Vanessa (March 25-April 2, 2017) by Colleen Neuman. The play introduces audiences to a young girl struggling to come to terms with the loss of her father. In a world where imaginary friends seem real and real friends are scarce, Vanessa discovers both.

Next up is The Grumpiest Boy in the World (April 8-16, 2017) by Finegan Kruckemeyer. The play follows Zachary Briddling, an “unbearably normal” boy, as he sets off on a magical adventure.

Finishing off the season will be Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure (April 23-May 21, 2017), with book and lyrics by Rachel Rockwell and music and lyrics by Michael Mahler. A new musical version of the classic story, the play will underscore Alice’s adventures in Wonderland with a rock soundtrack.

Founded in 1977, Childsplay is a nonprofit company of professional, adult artists who perform for and teach young audiences and their families.

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