Junie B. Jones returns to the stage in 'Jingle Bells, Batman Smells'

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Get ready for some holiday family fun, as Junie B. Jones comes to town! Everyone's favorite first grader is returning to Tempe Center for the Arts this holiday season as Childsplay brings back holiday hit with Junie B., "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!"

The story focuses on the kids in Room One, who are gearing up for a celebration. But when Junie B. draws tattletale May's name for the Secret Santa giveaway, she hatches a plan to leave her nemesis with a stinky old lump of coal. Based on Barbara Park's bestselling books, the hilarious Junie B. and her holiday hijinks will leave kids laughing for days.

While this show has become a favorite for many Valley families in years past, Childsplay is excited to announce a new group of actors that will be bringing a fresh personality to the characters in Room One.

Written by Allison Gregory and adapted from the book by Barbara Park, Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! features Childsplay favorite Kate Haas in the role of the feisty Junie B. Jones. Another Childsplay favorite, Kaleena Newman, takes on the role of her nemesis tattletale, May. The all-star cast is rounded out with John Gentry as Grampa/Mr. Toot, Yolanda London as Lucille, Dwayne Hartford as Mr. Scary, Thomas Strawser as Sheldon, Tyler Eglen as Herb/Phillip and Carlos A. Lara as José.  Childsplay's founder and artistic director, David Saar is directing.

"It's exciting!" says actress Kate Haas, who plays Junie B. Jones. "I was a big reader when I was younger and I know what it's like to read a book and love a book, and see it brought to life."

Performances of Junie B. will be held at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway from November 22 - December 28, Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. Special holiday performances will also be held on Tuesday, December 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Wednesday, December 24 at 2 p.m.

Single tickets start at $15 and are on sale now at www.childsplayaz.org or at the Tempe Center for the Arts Box Office (480) 350-2822 (ext. 0).  This play is recommended for ages 5 and up.

For more information, visit www.childsplayaz.org.

Childsplay, Inc. is a nonprofit theatre company of professional, adult artists who perform for and teach young audiences and their families. The mission of Childsplay is "to create theatre so strikingly original in form, content or both, that it instills in young people an enduring awe, love and respect for the medium, thus preserving imagination and wonder, the hallmarks of childhood which are keys to the future."