Books Alive! 2018 “Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook”

Theatre Guild’s 12th annual Books Alive! Program will feature characters from the
very popular Junie B. Jones books with this year’s April production of “Junie B.
Jones Is Not A Crook”.

Through a special partnership between The Theatre Guild Inc. of Morristown and
the Hamblen County Department of Education, thousands of Lakeway area K
thru 3rd Grade students have been educated and entertained through this special
educational program. The Books Alive! Program which started during the 2007-
2008 school year has blossomed into an anticipated annual event among
elementary classes.

The Guild produces these shows thanks to donors and grants, so that there is no
admission charge for these student shows. Performances are held several times a
day at Morristown-Hamblen East High School, with the young audiences arriving
by the busload to see the show. Performances will occur over several days,
culminating in one public performance so parents, relatives and friends of the
student-led cast can see the work as well. The public performance will be in the
East High auditorium at 7 pm on Friday April 13 for a $5 admission.

Each Books Alive! show is a stage adaptation of a wildly popular children’s book,
and each production is designed as a powerful hands-on theatrical experience for
school groups. Each year, the Guild builds an entire educational program around a
story. This process includes choosing a relevant, engaging children’s book,
working with the author, creating accompanying curriculum for teachers that is
based on Tennessee state standards, and producing it in a way that children learn
about literature and drama from the experience.

Books Alive! features area student actors under the direction and guidance of
Hamblen County educators and specialists so that from the stage to the audience,
the whole production is education based. Students from middle through high
school make up each show’s cast, and over the course of rehearsals take a voyage
of discovery about all elements of theatrical production, from helping to sell
program advertising, creating costumes and props, learning about set design and
construction and all the technical aspects too, including lighting and sound design.

A generous annual donation from the American Book Company also allows for
each elementary school in the county to receive 30-40 age-appropriate books for
their school library.

“From day one of this program, we wanted to encourage students of all ages to
discover the great joy of reading,” said Guild Artistic Director Joe Powell. “It’s a
simple fact that once students are engaged and interested in reading, all their other
efforts in school benefit. The second goal of the program is to provide what is
often K-3rd grade students’ very first theatrical experience. Our productions always
include multiple opportunities to participate in the show, either thru repeating lines
of the characters onstage or even asking some in the audience to join the
performers on stage. One of our recent productions, which focused on how Fairy
Tales are written and told, had audience members join in as Snow White’s dwarves
and there were even scenes when all those attending were asked to raise their arms
and help created the tree-filled woods which was the story’s background.”
Powell added “This year, our returning directors for the show are Lexi McDermott,
a dance instructor and choreographer in our community, and Tyler McDaniel,
whose enthusiasm and work with these young students continues to grow. Their
devotion to this program is really inspiring to all. And both of them first began
their work for the Guild as young student actors in the early Books Alive!

Co-director Lexi McDermott says “We have a strong cast, many new friendships
are being made, and as this is my first time directing, I’ve been amazed to see what
these young performers do – and this show teaches important lessons about
honesty and friendship. I’m eager to see how the actors bring it to life.”
Co-director Tyler McDaniel says, “This program is one of the best things the Guild
does. It is a powerful pathway to discovering the magic of theatre, of reading, and
all the educational aspects available to our community.”

The cast includes:
Junie B. Jones- Claire Tasker
Grace- Sara Helm
Lucille- Emma Bowen
Mother- Samantha Scarce
Handsome Warren- Luke Underwood
Meanie Jim- Jacob North
Ricardo- Johnhenry Krasinski
Principal- Britney Newman
Grampa Frank Miller- Jacob Overton
Pink Fuzzy Girl/Mitten Crook- Hannah Antrican
Grouchy Typing Lady/Parrot- Lexy Ratliff

The public performance will be in the East High auditorium at 7 pm on Friday April 13 for a $5 admission.