‘Miss Nelson is Missing!’

Take a classroom full of rowdy girls, add a sweet pushover of a teacher who eventually ends up being replaced by a mean, disciplinarian-type sub and what do you get? A regretful group of students longing to get their old teacher back and Thunder Bay Theatre’s new children’s production based on the popular picture book, “Miss Nelson is Missing!”

Twelve local junior high students, along with members of TBT’s core company, star in this lighthearted musical that opens Friday.

“It’s going to be a really fun show,” said TBT Artistic Director Kevin Reams. “We’ve cast 12 middle school age girls and expanded the original script to include the full classroom.”

According to Reams, the script, based on the book by Harry Allard and James Marshall, originally was written as a touring show done with six adult actors and set in a fourth grade classroom. Reams opted to turn the setting into an all girls school and add more pupils, but still have the young female actors play fourth graders.

“The girls are very rambunctious,” he said. “They’ve lost a lot of their inhibitions because they don’t have boys there to looking at them. Their classroom is supposed to be the worst in the world, so they are ornery, out-of-control kids.”

The students featured in the production include Brynna Smith, Emily Thatcher, Emma Gagnon, Allison Kania, Bella Brown, Chloe Brothers, Amber McEachern, Makena Pashley, Emily Kania, Samantha Brooks, Olivia Martin and Madeline Young.

Among the TBT company members ready to make this show a thoroughly entertaining experience for audiences of all ages are Nickie Hilton as Miss Nelson, Colin Marshall as the boring principal, Mr. Blandsworth, and Nick Hartman as the bumbling Detective McSmogg. Local actor Rick Mesler also appears in the show as Pops Hansen, a janitor who doubles as the narrator.

“There are a lot of really cute songs in the show that stick in your head,” Reams said of the music that falls under the direction of Bunny Lyon.

Besides serving as the show’s musical director, Lyon also serves as piano accompanist. Technical director is Joe Simpson, with Hilton on props.

“Miss Nelson is Missing!” runs for just six performance on Jan. 24-26 and Jan. 31-Feb. 2 with show times at 7:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $6 for youth (ages 18 and under). For reservations, call the TBT box office at 354-2267.