Limelight play looks at middle school angst | Community

By Katy Springer, GSN Contributor
6 Min Read

Anxious. Optimistic. Uncertain. Hopeful.

Anyone who has attended middle school has lived through this roller coaster of emotions, and young readers everywhere have experienced the agony and humor of adolescence through Jeff Kinney’s beloved book series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

Now, Limelight Performing Arts is bringing the series to the stage in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical,” playing April 6-19 at Limelight’s black box theater at 511 W. Guadalupe Road.

The youth theater company is the first in Arizona to present this musical.

The 60-minute production transports audiences to the hilarious and relatable world of Greg Heffley, an average middle schooler with big dreams and an even bigger imagination, as he navigates life’s ups and downs with his quirky family and friends by his side.

“Something audiences will love is that the musical follows the storylines in the books so closely,” said Emma England, Limelight’s artistic director. “Seeing characters like Greg, Rowley, Patty and Fregley come to life will be magical, especially for kids.”

Among the storylines is the dreaded “Cheese Touch” – akin to the concept of cooties – which creates paranoia and fear as students try desperately to avoid becoming infected.

Another favorite moment from the books – and now in the stage production – is Patty and Greg’s faceoff for the position of school treasurer. Patty enters the contest and vows retribution for Greg’s second-grade antics when he poured a tube of glitter glue down her back.

“The show centers on Greg’s battle to find his place,” added England. “He is constantly trying to figure out his social standing in middle school and is determined not to be at the bottom of the popularity chart.”

Greg spends much of the show being embarrassed about his best friend, Rowley. He worries that Rowley’s utter lack of coolness will knock Greg down a few rungs on the social ladder.

“He’s not a great friend to Rowley at first, but he changes his tune by the end of the story,” said England. “He recognizes the friend he has in Rowley and realizes he doesn’t need to worry so much about everyone else’s opinions. It’s an incredibly relatable experience.”

Beyond its hilarious and heartfelt storyline, what sets “Wimpy Kid” apart is its talented cast of young performers – kids who have grown up with the books and have a strong sense of the characters.

“I’m very excited about this young cast,” said England. “They bring really strong energy and individuality to the show. They’re also working hard to portray their unique characters and to nail the music. Even the youngest kids are getting their harmonies down.”

The Gilbert thespians in the cast of “Wimpy Kid” include Emma Kleniewski, 11, as Patty Farrell; 8-year-old Dominic Montufar as Chirag Gupta; Gabriela Montufar, 10, as Fregley and understudy Greg Heffley; 11-year-old Amelia Rush as Claire; Hasley Rush, 6, as Marley; 8-year-old Emily Scanio as Pauline; and Henry Starks, 9, as Charlie Davis.

The music itself is a standout feature. From upbeat numbers like “The Cheese Touch” to poignant ballads like “Just Be You,” the score adds an extra layer of meaning to Greg’s adventures, driving home important messages about friendship, self-acceptance and the power of being true to oneself.

“When I first learned about ‘Wimpy Kid,’ I heard a song called ‘Stuck in the Middle’ and couldn’t stop singing it all day,” said England. “Since this is a brand-new show, audiences will get to hear these songs for the first time. It’s such a fun score with so much variety, from shoo-bop and rap to boy-band material.”

The costumes, too, add another element of fun.

“There are definitely some surprises,” said England. “There’s a scene where Greg is talking with Rowley about his drawings, and the drawings come to life in front of them. We’re accomplishing this with a cool costume technique that makes it look like performers are stepping right off the paper.”

Presented by special arrangement with Broadway Licensing, LLC, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical” reminds audiences that it’s okay to be imperfect, to make mistakes and to embrace the journey of growing up.

Tickets for “Wimpy Kid” can be purchased on Limelight’s website, The run includes evening and matinee performances. Group discounts are also available.

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By Katy Springer, GSN Contributor , – Vivrr Local Results in community of type article , 2024-04-04 07:00:00
Tags: limelight performing arts, diary of a wimpy kid the musical, gilbert youth theater, limelight youth theater production, gilbert musical theater

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