‘The Grumpiest Boy in the World’ explores the idea of being average


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Michelle Kim stars as Zachary Briddling in “The Grumpiest Boy in the World.” The show opens Nov. 17 at Shanley Pavilion.

Matthew Choi, Copy Chief


It can be hard to be average.

“The Grumpiest Boy in the World,” written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, comes to Northwestern in a production by Purple Crayon Players. The 45-minute play recounts the story of Zachary Briddling, a 7-year-old boy who struggles to find what makes him special. Hoping to escape his sense of being average, Zachary goes on an adventure through his imagination, meeting fantastical creatures, and he ultimately embraces the subtle aspects about his character that make him unique.

The show features a cast of five actors, some playing several of the fanciful characters, and it marks the debut of producer Josh Krivan and director Julianne Lang. It opens Thursday in the Shanley Pavilion and is free to all.

Krivan, a Communication sophomore, said he was eager to get involved in producing the show and was always passionate about theater for younger audiences. The show’s fast pace and lightheartedness makes it a much-needed distraction from students’ busy schedules and the stress of the recent presidential election, Krivan said.

“It’s so relevant right now in this time of division that we’ve been experiencing very viscerally,” Krivan said. “Zach finds these things with creatures who are seemingly completely different from him and so ostensibly bizarre that they eventually end up connecting over, and that’s something we need to reflect on moving forward.”

Rehearsals for the show were collaborative and often improvised, with the cast experimenting with physical storytelling, Lang said.

Lang also said the themes of coping with feeling average and embracing uniqueness are particularly pertinent to NU students, who frequently over-stress to find what makes them unique.

“Why I was drawn to this show is just the idea that there is no definition of average anywhere,” the Communication junior said. “So many people are focused on what they can do to make themselves stand out and be special and emphasize their qualities, which is so important, but it also leads a lot of us to overcommit ourselves.”

Weinberg senior Michelle Kim, who plays Zachary, said she strongly identifies with her character. In addition to personally experiencing the stress of feeling average in an environment of extraordinary peers, Kim said she enjoys playing a young boy because she sees so much of herself in him.

“My friends always tell me I act like a 10-year-old boy a lot of the time,” Kim said. “So I only had to draw back, like, three years.”

Kim previously worked with Lang in last winter’s production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and she was eager to work with the director again, she said. In addition to providing a show that can be a repose for NU students, working on the show has been a refuge from stress for cast and crew personally as well.

“The rehearsal room is something every day I look forward to,” Kim said. “It’s just become this space where I’ve become super comfortable, and we create weird things and can be super weird with each other, which I think is super great for us.”

Twitter: @matthewchoi2018
Email: [email protected]