'Dear Edwina Jr.' comes to the stage this Friday

Katie Williver is ready to play Edwina in 'Dear Edwina Jr.' this weekend. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Williver

By Laurie Gordon
NEWTON — It's the story of the joys of growing up and the adventures of of a little girl who likes to give advice named Edwina Spoonapple. The musical is called Dear Edwina Jr, and the culmination of a lot of hard work by teachers and students will come in performances at 7:07 pm on this Friday and Saturday night.
Tara Pastor Poe leads the Kittatinny Players feeder program, The Kittatinny Junior Players, and is the director of the show.
“Dear Edwina Jr is well known and respected around the country as one of the best musicals for middle school performers, especially those with strong females in the cast,” she said. “Featuring music, lyrics and a book written by the co-creators of 'Taylor the Latte Boy,' the show is both funny and heartwarming.”
Pastor Poe said her biggest challenge with the play and preparation has been, “It takes place on the set of a public access television show in the 1990s, so we really stepped up our production to include a live television element.” She added that her biggest satisfaction is, “I truly enjoy discovering and working with all of the young talented performers we are fortunate to have at Kittatinny.”
Eighth grader Katie Williver will be playing the part of Edwina.
“I was surprised at getting the role of Edwina, because there were many other people who wanted the role, too,” she said. “This is only my third show, but I definitely love doing theater. The biggest challenge with this play is that Edwina is supposed to be very loud and pushy around everyone, and it can be hard sometimes to get into full character, because I am not always loud and outgoing. It can be hard at times to do a play that isn't as known sometimes because we aren't as familiar with the plot, but it's also a lot of fun because it's a fun show to do. The story line is great.”
And Williver has some high aspirations. “When I am older, I want to do Broadway or some type of theater, but it is really hard to do."
Williver's mom, Cheryl Williver said, “As for me, I just try to keep her healthy! I make sure she gets enough steep, takes her Vitamins and drinks plenty of water and tea with honey, to keep her going. We've gone through so many bottles of honey this year! I live in my car. Eating well in crucial, too, but with a teenager, that can be challenging. After school, she has play practice for anywhere from one hour to, now that it's closer to the show dates, six hours. From play practice, for the last two months, I pick her up from school and head to dance classes at Synergy Dance Company's Studio in Frankford. She is in Troupe this year, so she has six classes each week, plus in the beginning of the year, she was learning her solo.”
Katie Williver is also part of four choirs (KRHS's Choir Class, Select Choir, the ACDA Junior High Honors Choir, and Region 1 Choir).
“All of the dance and choir she has participated in thus far has really prepared her, both physically and mentally, for the musical," her mom said. "She loves being on stage, and it really helps to balance her school life. It really does discipline her, because she knows she needs to get her schoolwork done, and it helps her stay fit and has really improved her craft. We're so very proud of all that she has accomplished in such a short amount of time.”
Kittatinny seventh grader, Hazel Fronczkowski, said she's enjoyed all of the work leading up to the play.
“I have really enjoyed the play so far," she said. "I think most of the cast and crew worked really hard to get this far and I think it’ll be amazing as soon as it’s done. I am part of crew so my job is to work behind stage with microphones changes and scene changes. I even get my one walkie-talkie and I feel like such a professional. I think one of the best parts about working for the play is watching everyone work together as a team and work the tiny flaws out, we all support each other whenever we have a meeting. All in all, I think our Dear Edwina Jr. play will come out to be a great success, and I see a lot of talent in the cast and crew.”
Riley Hough said of Dear Edwina Jr., “To be in the play means a lot to me. Over the years at my elementary school I participated in the Fredon School musicals and I instantly loved acting on stage. Practices leading up to the play have been filled with hard work from everyone, and many hours of each person's day. We practice for five to six days a week for three hours after school and on the weekend too. Getting all of the props, buying costumes, and getting all of the tech together takes a lot of time, but the Kittatinny Players and staff have definitely proved to us they can do it all.”
Marah Whitby will be playing the role of Kelly, the town dancer who has a lemonade stand.
“I enjoy dancing and singing and meeting new friends at play practice,” she said.
Pastor Poe called the musical a “pro-social show with a lot of great messages that promote kindness and good behavior.”
The choreography is by Denise Georges, musical direction is by Chris Henke, technical direction is by Chris Tryde, and the orchestra is conducted by Alexandra Straulina.
Pastor Poe is a former Kittatinny Player herself and said, “I grew up in the theater under the tutelage of master teachers Pete Mahler and Joe Mello. My colleagues and I love our school and its theater program, and we work hard to try to deliver the same inspiration and commitment to the style and craft as has been imparted to generations of Kittatinny Players. We just aspire to live up to their legacies.”
The show will be held on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12 at 7:07 pm in the Kittatinny Regional High School auditorium. For current ticket information for 'Dear Edwina Jr.' please call 973-383-1800 or email theater@krhs.net.