Crash Coogan seems to have it all – good grades, natural athleticism, popular friends. But what he can’t seem to get is the attention of his preoccupied father and the new girl in town, Jane. Despite being the target of Crash’s bullying, Penn Webb, his unconventional neighbor, enjoys a happy life with a pet turtle, strong family support and Jane’s friendship. Penn wants to earn a coveted spot on the Penn Relays team to honor his great grandfather. Crash wants to win that spot just to prove he can. Things change when his grandfather suffers a stroke and Crash realizes finishing first isn’t the most important thing. This production shares important insights and demonstrates author Jerry Spinelli’s appeal to older elementary students.

“Older students will really connect to these characters and their struggles with social hierarchy. It’s a funny, moving story, affirming the simple truth that we must treat all people well.” – SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell

Charlotte Martin Theatre

Age Recommendation
For Ages 8+


This production has past.

“an engaging emotional journey”


More Info

Age Recommendation:
Ages 8 and up - This story of middle school taunting and cynicism, combined with the grandfather’s medical emergency might not be appropriate for younger children. Crash also has insightful moments where he appears to talk to himself which may be confusing to kids under eight years of age.

Curriculum Connections: Loyalty, Competition, Family, Environmentalism, Aging, Track, Football, Reading, Adaptation, Bullying, Social Hierarchy in Schools, Friendship

Cast and Design Team

Rita Giomi assembled a strong ensemble cast and design team with Quinn Franzen
making his SCT debut as the title character, Crash Coogan. Joining him are Rio Codda, Kate
Sumpter, Peter Crook, Emily Chisholm, Adam Standley, Todd Jefferson Moore and Beth
DeVries. The cast is supported by the production team led by Scenic Designer Carey Wong (A
Single Shard), Costume Designer Melanie Burgess, Lighting Designer Geoff Korf, Sound
Designer Chris R. Walker, and Fight Choreographer Geoff Alm.


John “Crash” Coogan has a lot of positive attributes. He’s a successful football player, gets all As in middle school and seems to ooze self-confidence. But he’s a bit of a bully. When he meets the new kid, Mike Deluca, they immediately bond over their collective accomplishments and their “better than others” attitude. Crash is the star of his own story, but unfortunately, his parents seem too busy to notice.

On the periphery of Crash’s world, his environmentalist sister and his unconventional neighbor, Penn Webb, are protesting development of green space. Penn views everything at face value, treasuring his pet turtle, Thomas, and the logic of second-hand clothes. Though constantly dismissed by Crash and picked on by others, Penn remains undaunted and true to his highly unusual nature. The new girl, Jane, takes a liking to Penn’s honesty and defends him even when he doesn’t realize he’s being teased. Penn is determined to win the seventh-grade spot on the Penn Relays team as a way to honor his great grandfather. True to his competitive nature, Crash plans to win that spot to prove he can’t be beat and get his father’s attention.

Crash starts to rethink his attitude after Jane rebuffs him, his coach notes his unsportsmanlike conduct and his grandfather, Scooter, is hospitalized. By the time the Penn Relays trial takes place, Crash is confused about his priorities and how he has treated Penn.