A first-time performance in Southern Oregon, “The Big One-Oh! Jr.” comes to Kids Unlimited Academy Friday and Saturday.

Royal Kids Theatre is bringing to life the popular young adult novel by Academy Award winner Dean Pitchford. The show debuts to the general public at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, in KUA’s Kimmel Performing Arts Center, 821 N. Riverside Ave., Medford. An encore performance is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18. A preview for the entire KUA student body and staff is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday.

“There are many first time theater students participating in this production, along with students who have been in the theater program for the past five years,” said KUA music and theater teacher BriAnna Johnson.

KUA fifth grader Alex Mendoza plays Boing Boing the dog.

Lead character, Charley Maplewood — played by KUA fifth grader Valeria Mendoza Rosales — decides to throw a 10th birthday party for himself, complete with a “house of horrors” theme, inspired by his imaginary monster friends. Trying to make real friends, Charley ends up inviting the class bully, the first in a series of missteps that challenge Charley to pull it together before “the big one-oh” becomes “the big OH-NO!”

KUA’s theater company — comprising 40 cast and crew — has been rehearsing since January, learning choreography, music and acting techniques. Being a part of the theater company gives KUA’s third- through eighth-grade students the opportunity to work together, said Johnson.

“It is so much fun watching them learn from each other as well as grow throughout the process,” said Johnson. “We are so proud of the professionalism these young actors have shown throughout rehearsals, and now onstage using the lighting and sound equipment like seasoned pros.”

Charley’s imaginary friends/monsters are the Zombie Queen (seventh grader Jimena Velez), Swampy (seventh grader Natalie Moreno) and Alien (third grader Marina Sanchez). Charley’s odd, next-door neighbor, Garry Quarky, is played by seventh grader Brody Kiesser, and schoolmate Jennifer Mobley is played by fourth grader Eleanor Goar. Fifth grader Alex Mendoza plays Boing Boing, Charley’s dog; Mom is played by seventh grader Iris Gomez; and sister Lorena is played by fourth grader Brianna Barajas.

The Zombie Queen is played by KUA seventh grader Jimena Velez.

“Not only will you find students onstage, but we also have an incredible group of students working backstage, as well, gaining skills they could use in the future,” said Johnson. Fifth grader Rayne Utegg is stage manager, seventh grader Adriana Barajas is light operator, fifth grader Jaylah Ibarra is soundboard operator, fifth grader Katherine Cook is spotlight operator and sixth grader Dahlia Deras Moreno provides special effects.

KUA staff and volunteers also have roles in the production. Local filmmaker and set designer John Foote constructed platforms and fashioned set pieces, KUA mathematics coach Cheryl Graham crafted set pieces. KUA IT manager Antonio Maya programmed the light system and served as technical director, and Larry Smith engineered sound. KUA Director of Digital Media Kevin Williams “has gone above and beyond to create and design our ‘Monsters & Maniacs’ comic book theme,” said Johnson. And KUA art teacher Adrienne Duckrow, along with Trinity Kruse, made all the gooey, gorey and fantastical props.

“The Big One-Oh Jr.” features lyrics by Pitchford (“Fame,” “Footloose”), Tony-winner Doug Besterman (“Elf,” “Young Frankenstein”) and book by iTheatrics award-winning playwright Timothy Allen McDonald (“Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka,” “James and the Giant Peach”). Royal Kids Theatre performances typically sell out with crowds of more than 200.

Admission costs $8, and tickets can be purchased at KUA’s Medford campus main office or with PayPal at online.