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'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' by native Marylander Jeff Kinney to become musical

'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' by native Marylander Jeff Kinney to become musical
In this 2008 file photo, Jeff Kinney draws his Wimpy Kid character on a hotel room mirror. (Stefano Paltera /)

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid," the mega-selling series of illustrated books by Maryland-born cartoonist and author Jeff Kinney, debuted in 2004 and has inspired a popular Web version and three movies so far, generating a franchise Fortune magazine estimated was worth $550 million by 2012.

That kid's next manifestation will be on the stage.

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"Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical," with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and a book by Joe Tracz, will be premiered in April 2016 at Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis. The company is the first theater for young people to win the Tony Award for regional theater (in 2003).

The character Kinney created is a middle-schooler who, in the words of Baltimore Sun writer Joe Burris, is "not that cool ... He's got a big head and a stick for a body; he looks like a Blow Pop. Plus, he wears a stupid backpack the size of a microwave. He's got a mom who's a total wimp. He scams his wimpy friends. He thinks wimpy thoughts. And, he gets harassed by his teenage brother Rodrick and other boys."

In short, as the Children's Theater Company announcement puts it, "he's the wimpy kid we can all relate to."

Kinney, 43, grew up in Prince George's County and earned a criminal justice degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he worked on the student newspaper, the Diamondback. There he worked on the comic strip "Igdoof."

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