It’s Paw Paw, Michigan’s most famous teenage advice talk show host working out of her family’s garage. But Edwina Spoonapple’s family seems to be even more famous, and Edwina is desperate to feel like she measures up to the rest of her family. She’s hoping to do it with her next big show, and what a show it is!

Richard May directs this one by San Diego Junior Theatre in their La Jolla location, and he’s put together a show that moves along nicely while still capturing the humor, all with the help of his talented young cast. Hallie Bodenstab leads it as their title character – a twelve-year-old actress with surprising vocals. Her Edwina is one of dogged determination, a perfectionist who wants to get this show done right so she can get into the coveted Advice-a-Palooza Festival. And she most definitely doesn’t want this show to be interrupted by any embarrassing secret admirers disclosing their secret (though Scott, played by Spencer Williams, is a nerdy, nervous but highly determined young suitor).

During the course of the show, through many entertaining song-and-dances, Edwina and her team give us clever advice for living in civilized society. If we’re picky eaters at a dinner party and find ourselves confronted with something like octopus toast, we should politely Say No Thank You. If we go around saying, “I want, I want” all the time, the results could be most fowl. Setting the table is demonstrated with some impressive opera. Help with shyness is delivered thanks to a cute story about shy Periwinkle (Hanna Samson), but no one has to be shy anywhere when we learn how to say “hello” in every language thanks to Hola Lola and a steel-drum band. And the adorable farmer girl Mary Sue Betty Bob Spoonapple (Shir Gershon), Edwina’s fifteenth cousin twice removed, smartly tells us how to save money in the timely Put It in the Piggy.

The cast includes Erica Malachowski as a ditzy cheerleader with a temper you don’t want to cross, Brooke Collins as an amusing ballerina friend, and Kaleolani Laymon as Edwina’s smart and sweet little sister who gets some much needed advice from big sis Edwina, giving Edwina a feeling that the Advice-a-Palooza Festival could never equal. Elsewhere, Fiona Beyerle is a Girl Scout cookie-selling extraordinaire, Frank Blythe is new neighbor Bobby who finds himself bulldozed into filling in on the show (Edwina can be very determined). And the whole cast, almost all age thirteen or younger, are exceptionally good, each making their own unique characters and fully inhabiting them from beginning to end. In fact, they start even before the beginning. The kids slowly filter into the theatre and improv amongst themselves and with the audience, just like kids leisurely playing in your typical Paw Paw, Michigan neighborhood.

Performed March 20 - April 5, 2009

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Annie: Fiona Beyerle
Becky: Erica Malachowski
Bobby: Frank Blythe
Edwina: Hallie Bodenstab
Katie: Kaleolani Laymon
Kelli: Brooke Collins
Lars/Cordell: Gregory Martin
Scott: Spencer Williams
Kids of Paw Paw:
Stephanie Aceron
Kailey Berry
Kasey Bethel
Haley Rose Cox
Jenna Dern
Shir Gershon
Elisa Greenberg
Sierra Kindig
Hannah Orr
Madeline Ottilie
Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman
Casey Purlia Johnson
Hanna Samson
Miranda Vega
Samantha Wang
Alexa Wing

Director/Hair and Make-up Design: Richard May
Music Director: Patrick Marion
Production Manager/Set Design/Lighting Design: Tony Cucuzzella
Loft Manager/Costume Design/Choreographer: Walter Allen



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