It’s quite a feat for a 10th-grader to act the role of a first-grader in a play and have the audience captivated and in stitches by the antics of the little school girl.
But that’s what Regan Dockery of Sartell does. The Sartell High School student is utterly convincing as Junie B. Jones, the lead character in “Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” What’s just as remarkable is that Dockery, when she was a wee girl, loved the Junie B. Jones series of books. Her mother used to read the books frequently to Regan and her sisters.
Flash forward about 10 years, and Dockery now finds herself playing Jones.
The play, a production of GREAT Children’s Theater will open Dec. 7 for six performances at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater. The production is a partnership between GREAT and St. John’s University’s Fine Arts Programming.
Dockery tried out for the part last fall and was elated when she heard the good news that the role was hers.
“I was really, really excited,” she said. “I always loved that character of Junie B. Jones.”
Dockery has performed in several school theater productions, but this is her first role for GREAT Children’s Theater.
Dockery described Junie B. Jones as “a very spunky first-grader with lots of personality and with a headstrong streak.”
The play takes place just before a classroom “Secret Santa” party. As her Secret Santa gift receiver, Junie draws the name of a classmate of whom she is not exactly fond. That classmate, named May, is a know-it-all blabbermouth. Junie ponders what to get and how much to spend on the gift. The present she eventually chooses is, to say the least, quite a surprise.
Dockery admits she had some trouble memorizing her lines for the play, mainly because Junie speaks a kind of slang that’s far from proper English. English happens to be Dockery’s favorite subject at school, which is instantly obvious to anyone who hears Dockery speak in an articulate, precise manner.
The costumes and scenery in the play are visually stunning like those in bright, colorful cartoons, Dockery noted.
“They are very visual so young children can enjoy the show, too,” she said.
Directed by Kris Maehren and stage managed by Anita Reber, “Junie B Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” has a cast of eight people ranging in age from 12 to adult.
Dockery is the daughter of Mark and Robin Dockery. She has two sisters – Tyler, 18; and Jordan, 13. Those sisters, too, enjoy theater. All will be in the audience the night of the debut performance.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.