This weekend my two daughters and I had the pleasure of being guests to The Emerald City production of Ramona Quimby. It was adapted from the beloved Beverly Cleary books. It follows Ramona and her family through joys and challenges for a year.
My girls have experienced children’s theatre before through school field trips so I knew they would enjoy it. What surprised me was how much I enjoyed it! We were told from the beginning that there would be audience participation, that the actors would talk to us and they wanted us to have an experience….and we did!
My kids were so enthralled they never spoke or asked a single question. There were a lot of laughs for old and young alike. The jokes in the show were often witty and/or silly. One of my favorite things about the show was the music. As they changed scenes they played excerpts from classic songs that played into the theme they were addressing during the play. Artists including Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, and The Jackson Five. It also made those few minutes of waiting a lot more fun. The actors were all very committed to their roles and I was really impressed with the performances of Rachel Van Marter (Ramona), Aaron Lawson (Mr. Quimby/Howie/Hobart), and Giselle Vaughn (Aunt Bea/waitress). My kids favorite characters were easily Ramona and Aunt Bea.
The other surprise I had was just how sweet and touching it was, actually evoking real emotion from me at times. As the mother of two girls it was great to watch the sisters Ramona and Beezus work through the difficulties of being sisters, loving at times, hating at times, but always realizing they were sisters for life. They dealt with issues that face families today just as much as they did back in the 70’s and 80’s when the books came out. The loss of a job, financial struggles, sacrifice, and someone you love moving away. One of the main issues they dealt with was Mr. Quimby’s struggle to quit smoking. Although I realize this is a real issue some of the dialogue was a bit graphic, “Your lungs will turn black and you will die!” My 9 year old found this quite alarming because we have family members that smoke. This shouldn’t be enough to detract you from seeing it though.
Near the end of the play my 7 yr old finally asked a question saying “is it over?”, I asked her if she was bored and her response was “No, I don’t want it to end”. I can’t think of a better endorsement than that!