I remember having several different reactions to this book, including 1) When the hell did the BSC all turn into talented singers/actors? 2) When did Jessi turn into such a bitch? And most importantly, 3) Why did they ruin the end by putting this on the cover? And this one doesn’t just give away an end that you know is coming, it actually gives away a whole plot point. I remember just waiting to find out why Jessi is in the crocodile costume on the cover, when it doesn’t happen until the end. It totally ruined the experience.
Stoneybrook Middle School is putting on a production of Peter Pan. It is apparently the first time the school has had any kind of school play, because everyone talks about how nothing like this has been done before. The play is open to high school and elementary school kids as well (since you know, they need to work in some baby-sitting).
When Jessi finds out about the play, she is convinced she is going to get the part of Peter. This is because the part is usually played by a woman and Jessi is an awesome dancer. But apparently she is not an awesome singer or actor, because she doesn’t get the part. Instead, Kristy gets the role of Peter, Dawn gets the role of Wendy, Stacey gets the part of Mrs. Darling, and Logan gets the part of a pirate. In addition, Claudia is the set designer, Mallory is the apprentice costume designer, and Mary Anne is the “backstage baby-sitter.”
But, back to Jessi. She is cast as a pirate, then quits, but ends up being the assistant choreographer. Her quitting happens off-screen (off-book?), so we can’t really verify her story about how this happens. I’m better the director did not really “beg her to stay in the production.” However, since the cover shows Jessi dressed in a crocodile costume, it is a safe bet that she’ll end up in the actual performance. Pete Black originally gets the part of the crocodile, but breaks his nose at the last minute and can’t perform. Which would have been a surprise if not for the stupid cover.
Now, it has to be said that Jessi is a raging bitch in this one. Seriously, I don’t know where it comes from, it really isn’t in character. First, she just assumes she’ll get the part of Peter. I am not sure why. Yes, she has her dance training, but in ballet she is always worried that she won’t get a good part. I think in the blizzard Super Special she was cast as the Mouse King in the Nutcracker and she was cool with it. So, why would she assume she’d get the lead in something that isn’t just dancing? On top of that, she is the one always the one to worry about her race. And here she doesn’t even do her usual, “I hope people are okay with a black Sleeping Beauty/Clara/Peter Pan/etc. I am not saying this is right, just that it is what she usually does.
Jessi is so obnoxious about it, that when she doesn’t get the part, it is kind of funny. Normally, I would feel bad about someone looking like such a fool, but I don’t because she was just such a bitch about it. And I feel bad for everyone….I don’t even like watching the Olympics because I feel bad for the people who come in fourth.
Okay, now that the rant is out of the way…..I’ll get back to the book. The framework of it is that Jessi is writing an article on the play and everyone is collecting notes for her. The girls have various adventures, but everything comes together at the end and the play is a success.
- Jessi applies to be the sixth-grade correspondent for the school paper. Doesn’t this seem like a job Mallory would have/want?
- The director and choreographer on the show are the teachers who sort of helped the BSC in the Winter Vacation Super Special.
- Early on, Jessi describes a scene where the bell rings at the end of class, and a kid jumps up and cheers…..leading to laughter from the teacher. Didn’t this happen in the first book? Only Kristy got in trouble for it.
- Kristy finds a stringy gray lump of something in her lunch and she keeps eating it. Just thinking about it makes me lose my appetite.
- Dawn says she doesn’t remember why the BSC hates Cokie. I would think Dawn would remember someone playing tricks on her supposed best friend.
- The auditions are totally disorganized. Everyone has to show up early in the morning, and then sit around while the little kids audition. Why not, have separate times for different ages? It is easier for everyone.
- Karen Brewer throws a temper tantrum at the auditions because she wants to play Tinker Bell. She is supposed to be represented by light, but the director ends up adding the part just for Karen. No wonder that child is a brat.
- Poor Haley Braddock. Matt wants to audition for the play, so she goes with him to be a translator. Then she goes to rehearsals with him to do the same.
- Cokie gets her own chapter. It is actually kind of interesting, but I don’t buy that she would be giving notes to Jessi….even if it meant having her name in the school paper.
- Rehearsals also seem to be handled very badly. Now, when I was in middle school (and high school) I was in a couple plays. I never had any lines, but I was in them. And since I was barely in them, I know that the entire cast does not show up for every single rehearsal. They were usually done by scene – so people who were needed came, and others didn’t. In my 8th grade musical, I think the chorus had separate rehearsals for learning the songs. It is only in the last couple weeks that everyone goes. What is the point of having everyone there early on?
- Cokie gets a note from a classmate and makes a comment (to the reader) about her bad spelling. I would love to hear her reaction to Claudia’s writing.
- Mal’s is helping this girl named Savannah with costumes. Apparently this girl won’t go by a nickname, cause the only one she can think of is “Vannah.” Why not, Anna? Or Ava?
- Mallory says she can’t wait until she gets to take Home Ec. with some teacher, because the teacher is so glamorous and cool. Really?
- Dawn decides the play is sexist and keeps trying to change Wendy’s lines. Her version has Wendy going to Neverland to teach the Lost Boys to cook. I want to agree with her on principle, but it’s Peter Pan. Lighten up.
- Logan is worried because the name of the pirate he plays is, “Noodler.”
- Logan actually gets kicked out of the play because he was sword fighting with Alan Gray during rehearsal. But then he just asks nicely and the director lets him back in.
- Mal has to measure the cast in order to make their costumes. But she is too embarrassed to measure any of the boys.
- I don’t really get how the “making costumes” thing works. Everything seems to be done a few weeks into rehearsal, and there is no way that could happen if a couple kids were making them. Also, would they really hand make costumes for every single person?
- Another note on costumes: The whole cast starts wearing their full costume to rehearsal everyday. This seems to serve no purpose other than require Mallory and Savannah to be at each rehearsal to keep track of them.
- Jessi expects the director to list her in the program as “Assistant Producer” because she does so many additional things behind the scenes. When she finds out it is only going to be “Assistant Choreographer,” (the job she was given), she crosses it out entirely.
- Sam gets a chapter too. I love when he gets chapters…even if he does start his page of “notes” by venting about not understanding women. Am I really expected to believe he gave those notes to Jessi?
- Sam also tells us that he can’t understand why Kristy would fly off the handle at any comment he makes about her appearance. According to him, this is one of the mysteries of women.
- Kristy rented Peter Pan for Karen, which makes Karen upset that there are no sound effects when she appears on screen. I can’t figure out why the hell anyone would rent the movie for Karen so close to the play.
- Dawn doesn’t tell her father that she is Wendy because she doesn’t want him to feel bad about missing the play. But she still plans on sending him a program…..so, won’t that make him feel even worse? And in the end, it doesn’t matter because Richard taped the performance.
- Mary Anne gets annoyed that Mallory is helping watch kids backstage. You would think she would appreciate the help. Granted, Mallory isn’t doing what she is supposed to be doing (keeping track of costumes), but Mary Anne doesn’t have to get mad that she is doing extra work.
- Jessi has to fill in for Pete because the director didn’t count on needing an understudy for him. Isn’t that….the point of understudies?
- Jackie Rodowsky has the part of Michael Darling, but he is afraid of the crocodile and screams whenever he sees him. So, it turns out to be a good thing that Jessi gets the role….otherwise Jackie would not have gotten through the play.
- While Stacey is Mrs. Darling, Sam is Mr. Darling. Stacey is kind of embarrassed about it, since they are dating at the time. Plus, Sam keeps calling her “his darling, Mrs. Darling.” It turns out he is doing this to show his high school friends how much fun he and Stacey have together.
- Dawn thinks she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, and says she regrets trying out for the play. Then she gets on stage on opening night and realizes she likes being a star. Well, no kidding.
- Mary Anne, who is the “backstage baby-sitter” sits in the audience during the actual performance. Wouldn’t she be needed backstage then too? To make sure the kids don’t screw up behind the scenes?
- The play supposedly happened on January 24 and 25. But this doesn’t quite make sense to me. There is no way all the rehearsals happen within the month of January, but there is no mention of Christmas happening during this time span.
- It is kind of ridiculous that the BSC gets all the lead parts. I mean, other than Jessi, none of them have a theater background. Yet, somehow we are expected to believe that three of them have hidden talents as singers or actors? Granted, Stacey’s part isn’t as big as Kristy’s or Dawn’s, but it is an important role. I could see Kristy being a decent actor. And I could see one of the girls being a good singer. But three of them?
- Oh, and for anyone interested….the BSC stopped having regular meetings during the play, but Claud scheduled jobs whenever calls came in, and they all worked in jobs around rehearsals. Since all their main clients were in the play, I guess it doesn’t really matter.