Playwriting/Literary intern Sean Patrick Nill sits down with the female cast of Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook!
Courtney Kendall (Lucille), Heidi Bjorndahl (Junie B. Jones), Meher Mistry (Grace)
Sean: So, how does it feel to be in Kindergarten again?
Meher: It’s a-mazing!
(All three ladies laugh)
Meher: Cause so much of acting requires losing one’s inhibitions and so we get to do that even more so because we’re playing five years old, and… we get to be loud, and nuts, and free, and it’s really fun to do. I mean it’s been….a long time since I was five. And we get to re-live how fun that was.
Meher: Definitely, especially since we have a common love interest. One minute we’re fighting and the next minute we’re giggling and running offstage.
Sean: Is that a common thing with girls at this age? Fighting over a boy?
Heidi: Especially when you’re young, and you’re all in the same class, and it’s a small group of people. I feel that happens a lot when you’re younger, and its fun to explore that again.
Sean: How similar at the age of five were you to your characters?
Courtney: I was born to be a princess.
(All three ladies laugh)
Courtney: Lucille is perfect for me. It’s so perfect. And I’ve been around enough kids to know, that if a kid says something, they’re saying it for a reason. That understanding helps me tap into this character.
Heidi: I’m nothing like Junie B. I never got into trouble for talking in class. I’m usually quiet. So it’s a bit crazy to step into this character. She’s loud, she’s talkative, she’ll just stand on her desk which I could never imagine doing.
Meher: My sister is a lot like Grace. Grace is very competitive, she takes things very seriously. My sister’s may be coming to the show, and I think she’ll recognize herself in the performance. To this day, she’ll look at me and say, “I can beat you!” She doesn’t even care if there’s a reward, she just wants to win.
Sean: Did you all read the books when you were growing up?
Courtney: I did, but I didn’t actually remember until this last Tuesday when I saw the actual books…
Meher: I’m from India, so I’d never heard of them.
Heidi: I actually read them in first grade when I was learning to read…
Heidi: (Laughing) yeah, so that’s really cool.
Sean: Do you remember any games you played at the age of five?
Meher: Any game that involved snacking was probably my favorite.
Heidi: I loved playing board games when I was growing up like Chutes & Ladders and Candyland.
Sean: What will each of your characters grow up to be?
Meher: In the play, Grace exclaims that she’ll be in the Olympics one day, so I’ll fulfill that premonition and say athlete. If not, then maybe a dental surgeon.
Heidi: I think Junie B. will be an entrepreneur, and the boss of her own company. She is very creative and great at problem-solving! And she is definitely self-assured and confident enough to take charge over everyone.
Sean: Why should kids experience live theatre?
Courtney: It’s important. It’s a great way to learn plus it expands their imagination.
Meher: Very little expands your imagination the way live theater does. It’s so important for kids…both to watch and to participate in.
Heidi: For kids to see live theatre-especially in this digital age-to take part in a creative, imaginative experience, it’s beyond important. Especially in this show, where there are moments when the characters in the play check in with the audience and pose questions. There is no hiding behind screens, or shying away from what’s happening. Being an audience member in a smaller theatre setting especially requires you to be an active participant or observer. In my biased opinion, I believe it to be a more impactful and memorable experience than something viewed on a device at home.