The Adelaide Theatre Academy did a fine job with the highly suitable script and score of 13: The Musical. As a piece for young performers, this one is an ideal choice. All characters are young, the themes suit the age group, and there are sufficient challenges in the three disciplines of acting, singing and dancing to extend the performers’ range.
The production team of Director Matt Houston, MDs Ben Francis and Mim Sarre, and Choreographers Georgia Brass and Jemma Allen succeeded admirably in presenting a tight, smooth and fluent performance. As with a number of youth theatre groups, the Theatre Academy had two casts alternating in the principal roles. I saw the Indiana cast who were very impressive.
The story concerns a young New York Jewish boy whose parents have just broken up, and whose mother takes him to a small town in Indiana. There he has to deal with the problems of such a transition: – peer pressure, acceptance, discrimination and trying to find his own identity and values.
Jaxon Joy, as Evan, the nearly thirteen-year-old New Yorker on the verge of his Bar Mitzvah, brought charm, decency and an authentic innocence to the role. His timing was slick, his interaction with the other characters was convincing, and his voice was well-suited to the many songs which illustrate his character. He is critical to the musical’s success and Joy did a fine job in maintaining the narrative.
The other principal characters were equally well cast. Emily Fischer played the unpopular “loser”, Patrice, with sensitivity and understanding. She made it easy to identify with her and she played the role with skill and an inner strength. Tim Wilson handled the role of the physically disabled Archie very well. He was credible and entertaining, without descending into unnecessary exaggeration. Importantly, he brought a deft physicality to his performance.
Ethan Wright as Brett and Yasmin Smith as Brett’s love interest, Kendra, were well matched. They carried the roles of “popular kids” with confidence. Imogen Brown was commanding as the dominant Lucy. She succeeded in making Lucy archly manipulative, and her singing was a real feature, being both powerful and well-modulated. Lara Di Girolami as Charlotte and Oliver Lawes as Richie were impressive, too, in their supportive roles.
Ben Francis conducted the small backing band with precision and they provided a confident support to the large cast. The ensemble songs and dances were also well devised, vital and accurate.
This was an enthusiastic and impressive performance, and much enjoyed by the good sized audience.13: THE MUSICAL
Adelaide Theatre Academy
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