After 12-year-old Anya is cut from her middle school soccer team, she decides to pursue her true passion, which is theater. With the help of her sister and new friend Austin, Anya puts together a kids' summer theater troupe (The Random Farms Kids' Theater), recruiting area kids as actors and crew members. Acting as director, Anya has to navigate the ups and downs of a showbiz life, including preparing scripts, finding a venue, and handling ticket sales, not to mention calming the actors' insecurities and settling conflicts. It's a lot of responsibility for a 12-year-old. Will their first show ever get off the ground? This series is closely based on the real-life experience of Anya Wallach, who began a summer theater "camp" in her parents' basement when she was just sixteen years old. Today, Random Farms has launched the careers of many of today's youngest stars on Broadway.
|Interest Level||Grade 4 - Grade 7|
|Reading Level||Grade 6|
|ATOS Reading Level||5.2|
|Guided Reading Level||W|
|Publisher||Sleeping Bear Press|
|Available Formats||Hardcover (9781585369232), Paperback (9781585369249), PDF (9781633621367), Hosted ebook (9781633621596)|
|Number of Pages||256|
|Dimensions||5 x 8|
Booklist - Stagestruck: Curtain Up!
Never underestimate the power of a Broadway-obsessed tween. Readers familiar with the drama kid phenomenon—encompassing camps, voice lessons, dance classes, predawn drives to auditions, and trips to New York City to see the Great White Way—will not be surprised at the energy and determination Anya brings to her plan of creating an all-kids musical production in her suburban subdivision’s disused rec center. Disappointed at her middle school’s lack of a drama club, Anya teams up with the slightly dreamy Austin, a talented playwright whose knowledge of musical theater almost rivals her own, and her younger sister, who brings a realist’s perspective to Anya’s starry-eyed plans. Soon enough, everyone is involved in putting on the show. Kids who live for this stuff will appreciate the musical theater in-jokes and ignore the slightly stilted dialogue. Based on the author’s own experience, this will be a satisfying choice for fans of Tim Federle’s Better Nate than Ever (2013) and Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead’s Jack & Louisa (2015).
School Library Journal - Stagestruck: Curtain Up!
Twelve-year-old Anya is a self-professed theater geek, but there isn’t much opportunity for middle schoolers in suburban Chappaqua to flex their drama muscles. So Anya decides to start her own theater in the neighborhood clubhouse. With the help of her little sister Susan and Austin, a cute and talented aspiring composer/playwright, the Random Farms Kids’ Theater (RFKT) is born. Anya learns about theater, as well as friendship, as she leads her all-kids cast and crew through auditions, rehearsals, and, finally, to opening night. This fun romp, based on a concept by Wallach, founder of the actual RFKT in 1995, is a modern day “let’s-put-on-a-show” story updated to include social media and texting. Although the plot is formulaic and the characters only broadly developed, the story is full of heart, making it appealing to High School Musical fans. The text is riddled with musical theater references, and aspiring actors will enjoy the theater tips and lingo, even if they sound unbelievably mature when delivered by middle schoolers. First in a series, this book ends with Anya and Austin planning their next show. VERDICT This realistic title is recommended for general purchase by public and school libraries, especially those with a thriving theater geek scene.
Author: Lisa Fiedler
Lisa Fiedler is a lifelong fan of musical theater. She saw her first Broadway play at age seven and has been badly belting out show tunes ever since! Her books for children and young adults include the Mouseheart trilogy; Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s Story; and Dating Hamlet: Ophelia’s Story. She and her family divide their time between their home in Connecticut and their cottage on the Rhode Island seashore.
Author: Anya Wallach
Anya Wallach is the real-life creator of The Random Farms Kids’ Theater, a not-for-profit organization she started in her parents’ basement when she was a teenager. Today, the Random Farms kids can be regularly seen on Broadway and in film and television. Anya also created the theater’s extensive outreach program, with a focus on bullying prevention. In conjunction with Random Farms, Anya has been featured in The New York Times, FOX News Channel, Teen Kids News, and was recognized by The Huffington Post for her work as a young social entrepreneur. She lives in New York City, running Random Farms full time.