Since 1951, Davenport Junior Theatre (DJT) has been making theatre “For Kids, By Kids.”  Ramona Quimby is the second show of DJT’s 65th season.

Ramona Quimby, based on the classic children’s book series by Beverly Cleary, is a show about sisterhood and family.  For most families, life does not always go as planned; For the Quimby family it is no different. The story stretches over the course of one year, as everyone tries to balance school, life, work and family.  In the end, Beezus and Ramona come to learn that being sisters and being a family is pretty special.

The show features a cast and crew of 29 students from 6 different QCA towns.  The kids act, run crew, operating tech booth equipment, help run front-of-house and more.  Local professional theatre artists work alongside the kids to create a dynamic theatrical experience while training kids in theatrical production.  Directing the show is DJT alum, Cynthia Safford.

“I came back to DJT because I have such a strong belief that theatre is good for youth,” said Safford. “It fosters a positive community in which young people can really begin to feel like themselves. It is important to me to continue that tradition and the number one place to do that is at DJT.  The kids inspire me with their drive, energy and openness to the world.”

Safford, who started Junior Theatre at age seven, grew up in Davenport.  She went on to study in both New York City and Los Angeles at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.  Safford received her bachelors in theatre education from Saint Ambrose University.  She went on to earn a master’s degree in psychology from Grand Canyon University.  Today, Cynthia is the iJAG instructor at Davenport West High School.

Safford and Daniel Sheridan, DJT Artistic Director, were both in the Ramona Quimby back in 2001 when they were upperclassmen in high school at Davenport West High.

“This production is pretty special,” said Sheridan.  “This is our third time doing the show in 16 years.  Every time we do, it resonates with whatever is happening in the world at that time.  Kids and parents can relate to this story in a lot of ways because we always face challenges.  Seeing people overcome those challenges is what makes the show fun and exciting!”

“Ramona first appeared in 1955,” added Safford.  “Families still face economic and domestic issues that may cause them to struggle as a whole.  The important part is the happy ending.  Families can make it.  People of all ages will find something to relate to and keep them smiling through it all.”

Founded in 1951, Davenport Junior Theatre is the nation’s second-oldest children’s theatre.  Classes and camps are offered year-round in theatre and dance for students ages three to eighteen. Classes are as varied as acting, improvisation, character development, and sound design. In the quickly-growing dance division – which is only six years old – young dancers learn poise and confidence while having fun and making friends in a non-competitive dance environment.  DJT also holds a Spectrum Theatre program, serving youth on the autism spectrum or any challenge that may inhibit communication.  Through all these opportunities, DJT prepares kids for a lifetime of success, no matter what path their lives may take.

Ramona Quimby

by Beverly Cleary, dramatized by Len Jenkini

Performances:                                                                                                Tickets:

Saturday, February 18 at 1:00pm & 4:00pm                                              Ages 3-17: $6.00

Sunday, February 19 at 2:00pm                                                                          Adults: $8.00

Saturday, February 25 at 1:00pm & 4:00pm                                              Under 2: Free

Sunday, February 26 at 2:00pm                                                                          Tickets sold at the door

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.