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Bringing ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ to Life: First Stage Production

MILWAUKEE — First Stage is set to bring the beloved “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series to life on stage, captivating audiences with a blend of humor and adventure set in the tumultuous world of Middle School.

Featuring catchy and contemporary songs, this theatrical production, loosely based on the first book of the series, has garnered widespread acclaim across all age groups.

Jeff Frank, the artistic director of First Stage, recently appeared on Arts Avenue to offer a glimpse into the show and provide insights into the company’s upcoming projects at the Marcus Performing Arts Center, running until May 5th.

Good morning! It’s 8:23 on Arts Avenue, and we are thrilled to have Jeff Frank from First Stage Children’s Theater in the studio with us. Thank you for joining us today.

Absolutely, my pleasure. Let’s dive into the excitement surrounding “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” as it transitions from a popular book series to a vibrant stage production. How has the transition been for you?

It’s truly a remarkable adaptation, primarily focusing on the essence of the first book while incorporating elements from the rest of the series. The middle school phase is universally relatable, encapsulating the essence of self-discovery amidst societal expectations. This juxtaposition offers a rich tapestry for exploring humor, life lessons, and the true meaning of friendship.

The musical aspect adds another layer of enjoyment to the show. Could you elaborate on the musical styles featured in the production?

Audiences can expect a diverse musical experience ranging from traditional theater tunes to hints of hip hop and rap, catering to a wide spectrum of musical preferences. The eclectic mix has resonated well with viewers throughout the show’s run.

I understand that the production predominantly features young performers. How has their involvement shaped the show’s narrative?

With two casts comprising 16 talented young artists, the narrative centers around Greg’s journey and his interactions with friends and foes in the middle school landscape. These young performers truly carry the essence of the show, showcasing their growth in confidence and individuality throughout the rehearsal process.

The audience response has been overwhelmingly positive. What are some of the reactions and feedback you’ve received so far?

We’ve been fortunate to receive glowing reviews from both critics and audiences, with many dubbing it as their favorite First Stage production to date. The universal themes explored in the show resonate deeply with viewers, regardless of their familiarity with the book series.

For those unfamiliar with the books, is prior knowledge necessary to enjoy the stage adaptation?

No prior knowledge of the books is required to appreciate the show fully. The production encapsulates the essence of the middle school experience, offering a delightful mix of nostalgia and challenges that resonate with audiences on a personal level.

Lastly, could you share any upcoming projects or initiatives that First Stage is currently working on?

We are currently immersed in rehearsals for “Escape from Peligro Island,” our interactive “choose your own adventure” play, where audience participation drives the storyline with over 1400 unique narrative possibilities. This innovative approach promises a dynamic and engaging theatrical experience for all.

Thank you for sharing these insights with us. Don’t miss “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” the Musical, running at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts until May 5th.