The Musical’ at the Children’s Theater is relentlessly entertaining – Twin Cities

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Greg Heffley first emerged from the pen of Jeff Kinney in 1998. Humorously grappling with the pressures and anxieties of attending American college, with imaginative forays into fantasy, Greg later became the narrator of an online comic titled “Diary of a Wimpy”. Child.”

Soon it became a book…and another…and another, with a new one coming out every fall since 2009. The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series is now among the best-selling book series in history. publishing, with about 250 books. million copies sold.

Patrick McDermott stars as Greg Heffley, whose attempts to become more popular at his college often backfire, leaving classmates like Mason Yang and Mabel Weismann shocked, in the production of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Musical’. the Children’s Theater Company. (Courtesy of Kaitlin Randolph)

So why didn’t it become a hit Broadway musical? Good question, and one I was wondering after attending the opening weekend of Children’s Theater Company’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Musical.” This adaptation of Kinney’s first book (with a dash of the second) into a pop-rock musical was first premiered by the Minneapolis company in 2016, and the new version adds a few songs and scenes.

I came away feeling like it was a stronger musical than a lot of recent Broadway hits, with the performances and production values ​​of the Children’s Theater staging noticeably smoother than most touring productions that cross the city.

Created by the songwriting team of Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler with a book by Kevin Del Aguila, it’s a very fun and funny two-hour look into the life of an 11-year-old boy as he seeks popularity, friendship, and a niche in the often mean-spirited student body of his college.

Greg’s life is an open book – just like Scott Davis’ imaginative set design, which seems to fall from a loose-leaf notebook. All manner of elements emerge from the floor and wings in its staggered lighting standard of a proscenium, sliding seamlessly into place to the beat of the music.

And that music is pretty strong, as Mahler and Schmuckler draw from multiple genres, mixing tunes with hip-hop, hard rock, gospel and the kind of poppy, full-throated screams that are a musical theater staple. of the 21st century. Amanda Morton leads a versatile five-piece band in the pit.

So, among Greg’s many adventures, which have found their place on stage? Well, there’s that piece of cheese dumped at the edge of the playground that inspired a legend. And he’s trying to figure out how to deal with a sunny but embarrassing open-hearted best friend; become a politician, cartoonist and kindergarten security patrol; hack into his mother’s internal monetary system; fending off teenage bullies on Halloween; put on a number for the talent show; and a sleepover with a creepy, eccentric classmate.

Under the direction of Jenn Thompson, production proceeds quickly and smoothly. While two actors share the role of Greg during the run of the series – understandable, since he’s on stage throughout – Patrick McDermott proved an unfailingly engaging protagonist during the performance I attended, with many of charm, vulnerability and comedic timing. And Kamryn Henderson is suitably bubbly as Rowley’s best friend.

As Greg’s parents, real-life wives Autumn Ness and Reed Sigmund lend their portrayals the right touch of satirical send-off, presented through the amusing mirror of Greg’s perception of them. Like Rowley, they are a constant source of embarrassment. And what a treat to see fellow CTC member Dean Holt channel the exaggerated seriousness of adult authority figures and throw in a heavy metal drummer, to boot.

But the package is strong as they keep the series going and its big production numbers convincingly sell even at their dumbest. They help make “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” a relentlessly entertaining musical that deserves a life outside of the Twin Cities.

Rob Hubbard is an arts writer from the Twin Cities. Contact him at [email protected]

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Musical

  • When: Until June 18
  • Or: Children’s Theater Company, 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls.
  • Tickets: $78 to $15, available at 612-874-0400 or childrenstheatre.org
  • Capsule: A clever and melodious take on comical middle school crises.


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