Who Is Junie B. Jones?
Our Interview With Hannah Spina On Her Role as Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells Batman Smells On The Old Creamery's Main Stage November 29 - December 13, 2014 as our Holiday Theatre for Young Audiences Show!
Where are you from?
I am from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and I live there currently.
How long have you been involved in theatre?
My interest in theatre started when I was about 7 years old. I started going to summer theatre camps and fell in love with performing and storytelling. I went back every summer through middle school. Then I started getting involved in school productions and community theatre. In college I was minored in theatre and go to learn more about the technical aspects of theatre. Since graduating college I've continued to be active in community theatre. I love that in Eastern Iowa there are so many opportunities to see and do theatre. I feel very fortunate that in just a few years I've gotten to do everything from big musicals to Shakespeare to intimate plays and everything in between.
Why do you think you're a good fit to play Junie B. Jones in this play?
I think I'm a good fit to play Junie B. Jones because I have a very strong personal connection to her. When I was 6 or 7 years old I would read the Junie B. books out loud to my mom. She thought it was so fun to hear the words of Junie B. come out of a child who was Junie B.'s actual age. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of car trips with my mom and instead of listening to music, she would listen to me read Junie B aloud. There is such a spark and a spunkiness in Junie B. and I have a great time finding that in myself, she helps me bring it out. I've always loved that Junie B. marches to the beat of her own drum and seems to have no qualms about being exactly who she is. I think that is so important for kids and adults alike to find in themselves. Plus, I love being silly, and they don't come much sillier than Miss Junie B.! Plus, I love, love, love Christmas and everything that goes with it. And I think Junie B. has a very important lesson for all of us to remember this time of year, and I am so excited to share that with audiences.
What kind of similarities do you have to the character Junie B., either in the present or during your childhood?
I think Junie B. and I very similar in a lot of different ways. We are both silly, love our friends, have a little trouble putting ourselves together, can be stubborn, and have an overall joy for life. Junie B. is wacky and outgoing and loves to imagine, explore, and create. I am definitely wacky, and I love using my imagination, learning new things, and creating through theatre. I think she and I both have a love for telling stories, and we might both love attention a little too much. But I think Junie B. and I are both good at realizing when we have made mistakes or when we have done something we shouldn't have, and then apologizing and learning from our mistakes, which we both think is important. Plus, sometimes grammar makes my head explode too.
Have you worked with the Old Creamery Theatre before?
This is my fifth time working with the Old Creamery. I am so grateful, I just love it here. My first show was Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly in the summer of 2013. I got to play the Fly who wanted to be a superhero and went by the name Fly Girl. It was so much fun! The other Theatre for Young Audiences show I was in was The Velveteen Rabbit last Christmas. I played Velveteen and had such a lovely time. That story is so beautiful and getting to share it with audiences is one of my favorite holiday memories of all time. Other than that I got to do Unnecessary Farce in the fall of 2013 on the main stage which was a ton of fun and gave me the opportunity to work on my physical comedy skills. And most recently I played Cassandra in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on the Studio Stage. It was my first time working in that space and I loved it! It was so intimate and I felt very connected not only to my cast mates but also to the audience.
What other roles have you had in Theatre for Young Audiences shows?
The first kid shows I ever did were the Playtime Poppy or Cedar Rapids Children's Theatre shows in High School. I got to play a bunny one year, a mouse the next, and a mermaid my final year. In college, my very first show was an original children's show centered around the different stories of Jack, such as "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "the house that Jack built." It was fun because I got to play a variety of different characters. One of the best experiences I had in college was being in a class where we wrote an original children's show comprised of stories written by local elementary school students. In that I got to play everything from a princess, to a girl having a bad hair day, to a dog, and the member of a mariachi band. We had an awesome time putting that show together and bringing those kids' stories to life. Here in Cedar Rapids, I've had the good fortune to play the princess in Puss in Boots and the Frog Princess in The Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale Repair Shop, both at Brucemore. I really enjoy doing outdoor children's theatre because there is so much you can do with your surroundings. Brucemore is a great space where the actors get to do a lot of interacting with the youngsters in the audience.
What do you think Junie B. Jones would say to you if she knew you were playing her in Jingle Bells Batman Smells?
I think Junie B. would say to me "have lots and lots of fun sister!" Junie B. loves having fun and she would want me and the rest of the cast to make sure we're having a good time. But I also think she would really, really want me to make sure that the kids in the audience have a great time too. And that everyone sees through her story that the happiness we get from giving to others is one of the best kinds of happy there is. That is important to Junie B., I believe.
Why should people come see this Theatre for Young Audiences show?
People should come see this show because it is one of the funniest shows I have ever been a part of! The story is really sweet and it is chock full of delightful and hilarious jokes. You will find yourself laughing from beginning to end at each and every character and the situations they find themselves in. And I absolutely think that adults will find it just as exciting and engaging as the kids. This is a great holiday show that will get you in the Christmas spirit and remind us all how good it feels to give to others. If you want to see a fun, hilarious, heartwarming show that is perfect for everyone in the family, then you do not want to miss this!