Third- through sixth-grade students in Ms. Gerri McDonald’s Project Jubilee and Humanities classes at Perdido Elementary School, took advantage of an exciting opportunity to visit the Shakespeare Theater in Montgomery last week. They were able to watch the live performance of “Because of Winn-Dixie.” The play is a musicalized version of the Kate DiCamillo novel Because of Winn-Dixie, which follows the relationship between a lonely little girl named Opal and the stray dog she meets in a Winn-Dixie grocery store.
DeCamillo’s story centers on a young girl whose life is upended when her father, a Southern preacher, makes the decision to move the family to a small Florida town. She encounters a homeless dog outside the Winn-Dixie grocery store and slowly befriends the townsfolk through her adventures with the pup she names Winn-Dixie.
Because of Winn-Dixie is DiCamillo’s first published novel. It earned the Newbery Honor. She is also the author of “The Tale of Despereaux,” which was adapted as an animated feature.
This original production was the first pre-Broadway musical starring a live dog in a leading role. Taran (and understudy Cally), both Irish Wolfhounds, have been cast in the title role of Winn-Dixie, trained by Broadway’s foremost animal trainer, Bill Berloni.
Students and parents alike were amazed not only at Winn-Dixie’s performance, but the actors (some of whom were younger than third grade) as well. After the play, everyone enjoyed eating his or her favorite kind of pizza at CiCi’s before heading home.