Teenagers can relate to “Johnny Tremain,” the classic novel about a 16-year-old who takes up a musket and joins America’s rebellion against the British.
The valuable thing about this new stage adaptation – put together by a host of Sacramento theater artists – is that they didn’t make this story too pretty, or too pious. Revolutions aren’t easy. Good people are divided, business suffers, friends get hurt, even killed, before the conflict is resolved. Playwright Richard Hellesen doesn’t gloss over the huge personal risks that people took in 1776. That makes this show more than cute children’s entertainment.
The show’s composer Noah Agruss has also gone to the source, adapting songs from the 1700s.
The bright uniforms on the Redcoats, the long dresses on the women, and other visuals also make this a faithful adaptation of the book. More important, this story about self-centered boy becoming a capable young man is compelling on stage. My recommendation: introduce your older kids to this theatrical version of “Johnny Tremain.” You’ll have lots to discuss after seeing this well-crafted show.
"Johnny Tremain" continues at the Children's Theatre of California (B Street Theatre) through March 11th.