Middle school, ugh. It’s the worst. But Greg is determined NOT to be at the bottom of the popularity chart. He’ll leave that to his weird neighbor, Fregley. Or maybe Greg’s best friend, Rowley Jefferson. But it’s not going to be Greg… no way.
See Jeff Kinney’s popular character take center stage as Greg’s cartoon diary becomes a hilarious and heartfelt musical. Will Greg’s plans lead him to sacrifice his one true friend? Can anyone avoid the dreaded Cheese Touch? Grab a hall pass and don’t be late for an adventure familiar to anyone who actually survived middle school!
Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler
Book by Kevin Del Aguila
Directed by Jenn Thompson
Based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series by Jeff Kinney and the 20th Century Studios films
Produced by special arrangement with Buena Vista Theatrical and Kevin McCollum
2 hours including intermission
Best enjoyed by
Grades 3 – 12
UnitedHealth Group Stage
EDUCATOR GUIDE COMING SOON!
About the Show
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical is a large-scale play with music based on the book series by Jeff Kinney and featuring a large group of adult and student actors. This musical first premiered at CTC in 2016 and has since been workshopped in New York City.
- This production takes place on our UnitedHealth Group Stage which seats up to 745 people per performance.
- We know that teachers are the best judge to determine the right fit for their unique group of students. We recommend Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical for students in grades 3–12 due to length and themes of this performance. Check out the synopsis and content advisories for full information.
Language: 4 out of 5 stars
Language reflective of middle and high school vernacular such as “crap,” “sucks,” and “shut up.” Rodrick says insults including “turd breath,” “butt munch,” “rat face,” “stupid loser,” and “dork.” Rodrick says that he is “P.O’ed” and is scolded. Rodrick sings a song about farts and poop. Students prank the substitute teacher by adding the name “Tess Tickle” to the attendance list. During the Christmas talent show, Rodrick’s band (Loded Diper) introduces themselves as “Satan Claws,” calls the audience “Christmas Wieners,” and asks them “who wants their chestnuts roasted.”
Themes and Situations: 2 out of 5 stars
Manny vomits onstage. Greg and Rowley are bullied. Rodrick gets in trouble for owning an adult magazine.
Violence & Scariness: 1 out of 5 stars
Teenage bullies pick on and threaten Greg and Rowley. Greg and Rowley argue and attempt to fist fight (without much success).
Sensory Advisories: 4 out of 5 stars
Haze and fog effects are used throughout the show. This production is suggestive of a rock concert so lights are bright and music can be loud during musical numbers. Strobes and flashing lights are used during the Joshie concert at the beginning of Act 2.
Potentially Anxious Moments: 2 out of 5 stars
Greg and Rowley argue. Greg and Rowley are bullied. Greg and Rowley’s friendship is strained as Greg competes for popularity. Greg is not always a good friend to Rowley.
This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers. This play is still in development. Content is subject to change until script is finalized.
The show starts with Greg Hefley interrupting the action by informing the audience that he does not have a “diary.” He has a JOURNAL. It is the first day of school, and Greg is starting middle school. Rodrick, Greg’s older brother, is sporting a skull t-shirt and eye liner. Rodrick greets his younger brother by saying, “you suck.” Manny, Greg’s younger brother, keeps calling him “bubby” which annoys Greg, but his mom won’t do anything about it. The three Hefley brothers pose for a first day of school photo. Greg sings about being stuck in the middle as they drive to school. He is joined in his song by the rest of his classmates.
Greg attempts to make a good first impression and make new friends but the older kids steal his diary and make fun of him. He confesses that the only reason he writes in the diary is because one day he will be famous. We are suddenly transported to the world of his dreams where he is being interviewed by the press about how he became so famous. Back in the present, Greg stresses over picking the right seat in class. In his first class, he is forced to sit in the front so the teacher can keep an eye on him (knowing his brother’s reputation). But in the second class, he is seated next to Chirag, who is his friend from 5th grade. They bond by playing practical jokes on each other. Greg decides to pretend that Chirag moved away over the summer and recruits friends to help him pretend, so that Chirag feels invisible. Chirag tries to shut it down and say that the joke is not funny but Greg is convinced this is the only way he can grow in popularity.
At lunch, Greg tries to find a place to sit, but he is turned away from the cool table. When Bryce walks in, all the girls fawn over him. Bryce is #1 in popularity, and everyone reveals their popularity ranking. One student reveals he is getting braces which drops his popularity score by 30 points.
In gym class, Fregley greets Greg by asking if he wants to see his secret freckle or learn his secret language. The gym teacher calls the students “ladies” and releases them into the school yard.
Greg stumbles upon a moldy piece of cheese and learns about “the cheese touch,” which is a made-up playground disease, only cured if someone else touches the cheese.
Rowley enters wearing a poncho and speaking Spanish. Greg admits that Rowley is his best friend and Rowley asks for him to play after school. Greg encourages Rowley to say “hang out” instead of “play” since they are now in middle school and bemoans the fact that Rowley doesn’t seem to care about popularity rankings. Greg reveals his popularity ranking of 97 which is right in the middle of the pack.
Back at home, Rodrick is having band practice in the garage. The band is called “Loded Diper.” Dad threatens to call 911 on the crowd of teens who are taking up the driveway. We hear Rodrick’s song about farting in the distance. Rodrick enters and mom tells them both about “Mom Bucks,” which they need to earn so they can then exchange them for the things they want. Rodrick is not happy about this new system and exclaims that he is “P.O’ed” which causes Dad to tell him to “watch the abbreviations.”
Dad kicks Greg out of the house to “be active.” He heads to Rowley’s house to play video games. Rowley shows off his new Joshie poster; Joshie is a European rockstar who is typically liked by teenage girls. Greg plays video games while Rowley sings about how wonderful Joshie is, declaring his positive messages of respecting your parents and following your dreams. Greg tries to brainstorm things to help their popularity (money, nice clothes, a butt) and decides he needs to get an award in the yearbook which will guarantee his popularity. Rowley encourages Greg to follow his dreams. Greg decides to start by trying to win “best hair” but Rodrick puts maple syrup in his shampoo, which foils that plan.
In the first class the next day, the teacher announces a pop quiz about geography. Greg is confident because he is sitting in the back by the map, until Patty reminds the teacher to cover the map. Greg continues to pretend that Chirag doesn’t exist. An announcement tells the class that class government elections will be happening. Greg decides to run for Treasurer because no one ever runs for Treasurer, but Patty announces that she will also be running for Treasurer! Patty announces her campaign in the lunch room by handing out candy to anyone who agrees to vote for her. Greg starts his campaign by telling everyone Patty smells and has hair lice. Patty rebuts by promising more water fountains, softer toilet paper, and cupcakes. Greg announces that Patty once picked gum off the floor and ate it. A teacher interrupts the action and Greg gets disqualified for spreading lies about Patty.
Back at the Hefley household, mom is livid at Rodrick because Manny brought one of his smutty magazines to Kindergarten. Mom is punishing Rodrick by making him answer a variety of questions including “did owning this magazine make you a better person” and “what would you like to say to women for owning this magazine.”
Manny enters dressed as a pirate with Greg’s Xbox controller. Manny hits the controller repeatedly with a sword, destroying it. Mom takes Manny to his room to have a conversation while Greg bemoans that Manny can get away with anything because he is the youngest. Manny enters with a ball of tinfoil with toothpicks in it that he made for Greg to express his apology, but Greg doesn’t like it and throws it offstage. The ball hits Rodrick in the head, which causes him to emit a string of threats and insults at Greg.
Mom encourages Dad to try to talk to Greg but Dad is hesitant. Dad eventually encourages Greg to answer the phone when opportunity calls and try to find something outside of videos games and drawing to be good at.
Back at school, Chirag is trying to get Rowley to admit he is not invisible by bribing him with a corn dog. Greg jumps in by convincing the lunch room the corn dog Chirag is holding is floating. Everyone laughs, including Bryce who gives Greg a high-five. Greg decides to run for class clown. He finds substitute teachers easy targets for jokes. We see his popularity ranking rise with each substitute teacher he pranks. As his final prank, he decides to put the tinfoil ball Manny made him on the substitute teachers chair, but is horrified to find that the substitute is his mother! When his mother asks him about his lunch and calls him “honey bunches,” his popularity rank tanks. To make matters worse, he is unable to get the toothpick ball off of the chair before his mother sits down. The class does not think the toothpick ball joke was funny and Bryce calls Greg a monster.
As Greg is leaving class, his mother calls him over to tell him that she received a call from Chirag’s father about the prank Greg has been playing on Chirag. When Greg denies the allegations, Mom turns her attention to Rowley for the truth. Rowley bursts into tears admitting the whole thing. Mom takes Rowley and Greg to Chirag’s house to apologize. Greg brings the tinfoil ball as an apology gift since that’s what Manny did, but Mom isn’t buying it. Rowley throws himself to Chirag’s feet to beg for forgiveness while Greg gives a half-hearted apology. Chirag invites the two inside to play a board game. As they sit down to play, Greg realizes that the game’s money is what his mother is using for “Mom Bucks.” The three realize they have become independently wealthy and begin to rap about all the things they can do with their new found riches.
Since the school talent show is right around the corner, Greg decides to cash in his “Mom Bucks” to get a magician’s kit so he can win the talent show and be crowned “most talented” in the yearbook. Rodrick announces that his band, Loded Diper, will also be playing in the talent show. Rowley and Greg rehearse their magic act, but Rowley admits that he let the rabbit free in the yard. Mom insists that Manny be part of their magic show so they decide to make Manny the thing they make disappear. They bribe Manny to get into the magician’s box with cookies.
We transition to the school auditorium, where all of the students are practicing their magic acts. Rowley enters wearing full wizard attire…which isn’t what Greg meant when he said dress “magic-like.” They do a last minute rehearsal to make Manny disappear, but Manny escapes and goes missing. The two frantically search for Manny before they need to perform. They look all over the school and finally find Manny in the bathroom. Rowley is horrified when he finds that two high school boys graffitied the word “butt” in the stall. The teens threaten to beat up the boys, but Rowley sprays hairspray into their eyes and the three flee the bathroom. A chase ensues. During the chase, Rodrick’s band plays their original Christmas song. To introduce the song Rodrick says, “Christmas wieners! It’s me, Satan Claws! Who wants their chestnuts roasted?”
Manny, Greg, and Rowley make it to the stage in time for their act, but Rowley is so excited that he gives away the secret to the entire trick! The audience boos and heckles the magic act. Manny, having eaten too many cookies, vomits onstage, and Greg realizes that the thing holding him back from popularity is his friendship with Rowley. This is the end of Act 1.
Act 2 opens with a performance from Joshie, singing “Animal Heart.” We transition to Rowley’s bedroom who is changing the words of the song to reflect his love for Greg. We see the Joshie trend grow as everyone becomes obsessed with the singer.
At school, Greg shows off his new cool jacket and is super determined to become “best dressed.” Unfortunately, Rowley buys the same coat so they look like they intentionally matched. Bryce makes fun of the two. Greg becomes angry with Rowley for always trying to copy him.
At gym class, the teacher introduces the wrestling unit. At first, Greg is not thrilled since he will most likely have to wrestle Fregley, who has a serious hygiene issue. But he realizes that this might be his chance to be voted “most athletic.” The teacher sets boundaries for wrestling and divides them into weight classes, but Greg is partnered with Patty. Greg argues that he can’t wrestle a girl but the teacher says her parents will sue if she isn’t included while pushing Greg into the ring. Patty uses this as an opportunity to get Greg for all of them mean stuff he said during the class elections. Rowley cheers on Greg the entire match even though he is clearly losing. When Patty pins Greg, Rowley comes to his rescue and holds his hand as he regains composure. Rowley helps him limp out of class.
In the hallway, Greg’s popularity ranking has dropped even further, but Rowley assures Greg that he has fixed everything. Rowley informs Greg and he has signed the two of them up for Safety Patrol with Mr. Winsky. Greg is hesitant at first but convinces them by informing the two that they will get free hot cocoa and a pass to miss gym class.
The two put on their sashes and badges to help Kindergarteners across the street. Greg is a bit embarrassed but Rowley takes the responsibility very seriously, as if he is in the FBI.
We hear an announcement that they are looking for a cartoonist for the school paper. Greg knows this opportunity is for him. Back at Greg’s house, the two start working on the cartoon. Greg is hesitant about letting Rowley help but lets Rowley make his own cartoon. Greg creates a catch-phrase “Zoo Wee Mama” which is a big hit with Rowley. He thinks they should stick with that catch phrase and use it in all of their cartoons but Greg is over the idea. They begin to argue and Rowley goes home.
Back at school, we hear an announcement that the new cartoonist for the school paper is Greg. Everyone is shocked and Greg celebrates his accomplishment. His popularity ranking soars to 15 and Rowley apologizes for the argument they had the previous night. But Greg’s moment to shine is shattered when he realizes that the teacher changed his cartoon to talk about the new math section at the library. He gets a wedgie from an older student and his ranking plummets.
After school Greg needs some cheering up so Greg and Rowley play a game where Rowley rolls down a hill on a big-wheel bike while Greg tries to hit him with a football, but even this activity doesn’t help Greg cheer up. Rowley wants a chance to throw the football but Greg won’t let him. Greg gets angrier and angrier and throws the ball harder and harder each time until he actually hits Rowley and breaks his arm.
Greg bemoans that things couldn’t get any worse. Rowley’s injury catapults his popularity score and everyone theorizes how he was injured. When he enters the lunch room, everyone stands in line to sign his cast. Greg tries to steal back attention by informing the group that he was the one who broke Rowley’s arm but this information backfires when everyone becomes angry at him. Everyone becomes obsessed with Rowley and wants to be just like him, hanging Joshie posters and loving unicorns and kittens. This new found popularity doesn’t faze Rowley, who still considers Greg his best friend.
Suddenly, Mr. Winsky calls Rowley into his office, which shocks his adoring fans. Mr. Winsky kicks Rowley off of the safety patrol because he heard that Rowley pushed a Kindergartener into a ditch. Rowley insists that he didn’t do it and runs away crying.
Greg shows the audience what really happened in a flashback sequence. It was raining and Rowley couldn’t get his cast wet so he gave his poncho to Greg who single handedly walks the Kindergarteners across the street. Greg sees the teenagers from the talent show and decides to run from the scene, shoving the Kindergarteners into a ditch. Someone thought he was Rowley since he was wearing a poncho. Greg debates whether to tell the truth or let Rowley take the blame.
At the kitchen table, Greg’s mother asks what is wrong. He tells her he is trying to make a hard decision without telling her what the decision is about. Mom tells him to always do the right thing in a song with a choir singing back up. At the end of the song, we think that Greg is going to actually do the right thing and own up to what he did…but he surprises us by informing the audience that the “right thing” is to let Rowley take the fall.
Back at school, Rowley has dropped to an all-time low on the popularity scale. Patty calls Rowley garbage and Greg tries to make it better by inviting Rowley over to his house to play video games.
The two enter Greg’s room to find Rodrick reading Greg’s journal. Rodrick plays keep-away from the boys while he sings about how all the things he’s learned including about how Greg had Rowley take the fall for the Kindergarteners. Rowley becomes upset and decides to go home.
Greg is called into Mr. Winsky’s office to discuss the situation. Rowley gets promoted to Sargent of the safety patrol while Greg is fired. Greg asks Rowley to sneak him some hot cocoa but Rowley is too busy with his new friend, Chirag. Greg decides that two can play that game and plans a sleepover with Fregley. Fregley tries to get Greg to smell his scab. On top of that, his mother is a bit creepy and warns them to stay out of the basement, while also celebrating that Fregley finally made a human friend (his other friends are bugs). When his mother leaves, Fregley asks if Greg wants to play in his room or pick at his blisters.
When they arrive in Fregley’s room, Greg asks to play video games but they are banned in Fregley’s house. He has ventriloquist dolls to play with or offers a tickle fight. Greg starts to leave but Fregley grabs his bag of jelly beans and eats them all. Fregley becomes hyperactive and chases Greg around the room. Greg finds solace in the bathroom where he hides for the night and sings about how much better things would be better with Rowley.
Fregley puts a note under the bathroom door apologizing for being hyper and gives Greg his booger. Greg faints from disgust.
On the playground, the moldy cheese is still taking up residence in the middle of the basketball court.
In the lunch room, everyone is laughing at the newest edition of the school paper. Rowley was chosen to be the new cartoonist and uses the catch phrase “Zoo Wee Mama,” which everyone loves! It becomes a school craze.
After school, Greg confronts Rowley about using his catch phrase for his comics. The kids on the playground encourage the two to fist fight. They don’t really know how to fight and it devolves into Greg yelling “Joshie sucks” while they leap and prance around each other in a “fighting” manner. High schoolers enter and all the kids run away, except Greg and Rowley. The high school students decide to seek their vengeance from the Christmas Talent Show. They are discussing how to get revenge when they spot the cheese. They decide to make Rowley eat the cheese as punishment.
The kids reenter to find Greg and Rowley standing where the cheese once sat. Everyone assumes that Rowley ate it but Greg takes the fall by telling the kids that he picked it up and threw it away. We think that maybe it will be okay and the kids will accept Greg or even thank him for throwing it out, but that is not the case: Greg has contracted the “cheese touch” and his popularity level drops to the very bottom.
Back at the lunch room, we learn that Rowley was voted “class clown.”
At home, Rodrick gets in trouble for cashing in too many “Mom Bucks” at once and Dad asks for Greg’s help drawing a portrait.
But, Greg will be okay, because he and Rowley are best friends again.