13 the Musical

The greatest assets of 13 are also the greatest pitfalls.

It’s early days, as the boys grow in confidence and the production starts to gel more professionally this will be a great show with lots of laughs and uplifting, inspiring performances to it.

The cast are wonderfully talented and the concept by Jason Robert Brown is highly laudable, however with teenage performers cast ostensibly as twelve year olds, the musical fails to deliver the standard expected of the West End. It’s a horrible conundrum; can you criticise teenagers for being cast in such a high-profile show? Some of the problems also lie with content and aspects of this particular production neither of which helps their young charges consistently look their best over a non-stop 90-minute period.

As one might expect, it’s a coming-of-age tale as protagonist Evan struggles with the prospect of turning... you guessed it. Brown does well to create an interesting enough narrative – Evan makes friends with Patrice, an unpopular girl, at his new school but as he strives to fit in with the cool kids he finds it increasingly difficult to juggle the two. Add in Patrice’s terminally ill best friend Archie and you’ve got a group of misfits primed to sing about their strife.

Lead males Milo Panni (Evan), Ethan Quinn (Archie) and Lewis Ledlie (school jock Brett) can’t compete with the lead girls vocally, perhaps a result of casting pubescent boys – although the thought that stretching the point that this is yet another travail of boyhood changes is just not practical. Special mention to Alex Thomas as Malcolm though as the stand-out male vocal, albeit in an orbital role. This is particularly the case when compared to Madeline Banbury (Patrice) and Isabella Pappas (Lucy) who have stunning, powerful voices at such a tender age. Pappas ironically seems to be aged upwards in comparison to how she looks in rehearsal pictures and is therefore even more impressive as the ‘more knowledgable’, sassier, popular girl who has an air of Zeta-Jones about her. Give her 20 years to reach the right age to see her as Velma Kelly when Chicago is back in town. Ethan Quinn and Lewis Ledlie have the best lines and the comic talent to back it up. Archie is on crutches and milks his terminal illness brilliantly. Quinn barely looks ten but has more than enough self-assurance to compensate. He’s another one to look out for. Disability is an awkward theme for humour though as his ‘fatal disease’ is about a third of the show with another third being Jewish jokes and the rest being a bundle of teenage angst to stitch it together.

It’s early days, as the boys grow in confidence and the production starts to gel more professionally this will be a great show with lots of laughs and uplifting, inspiring performances to it. It is very endearing so let’s assume it’s just growing pains at this point. 13 could easily blossom into a four-star show.

One thing to note is that because this is a company of children there are actually 47 performers in the mix to comprise each show. Therefore clearly the quality and variety will be changeable each night which is an exciting prospect. For your information here is the cast list for this performance on August 16th:

Evan - Milo Panni

Archie - Ethan Quinn

Brett - Lewis Ledlie

Malcolm - Alex Thomas

Eddie - Daniel Osei

Richie - Akmed Khemolie

Simon - George Littell

Patrice - Madeline Banbury

Lucy - Isabella Pappas

Kendra - Chloe Endean

Cassie - Ellie Sayer

Charlotte - Effie Ogino

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The Blurb

An original musical with music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer, Jason Robert Brown, (Parade, The Last Five Years, Bridges of Madison County) and book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, it premiered on Broadway in 2008 and is the only Broadway musical ever with a cast and band entirely made of teenagers.

13 The Musical is an hilarious, coming-of-age musical about discovering that “cool” is sometimes where we least expect it. Geek. Poser. Jock. Beauty Queen. Wannabe. These are the labels that can last a lifetime. With an unforgettable rock score, 13 The Musical is a musical about fitting in – and standing out! Evan Goldman is plucked from his fast-paced, preteen New York City life and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents divorce. Surrounded by an array of simpleminded middle school students, he needs to establish his place in the popularity pecking order. Can he situate himself on a comfortable link of the food chain... or will he dangle at the end with the outcasts Composed of a precocious cast, no character in 13 is older than the show’s title.The cast is comprised entirely of teenagers, but the stories that come to life here are ageless, the emotions they explore timeless, the laughter and the memories they provide priceless.

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