The storyline is shallow, the message insubstantial and the script contrived, so you don’t have anything deep to think about. Instead, you can just sit back and enjoy the stream of songs that flows from Jason Robert Brown’s fast-paced score and marvel at the wonder of youth.
The confidence of the cast left me relaxed throughout. I was never in any doubt that they would pull it off.
In 13, Evan Goldman is looking forward to celebrating his thirteenth birthday. It’s a big day in any boy’s life, but an even bigger one if you are Jewish and living in New York City. Excited and buzzing with ideas for the celebratory party, he is told his parents are getting divorced and that he will be moving to Appleton, Indiana with his mother. On arrival Evan’s first priority is to create a new circle of friends who will attend his Bar Mitzvah, a task which is more difficult than he could have imagined.
For the boys, Ross MacKenzie as Evan has this show firmly under control from the start. His voice is powerful and his presence commanding. Archie, the boy with muscular dystrophy, provides much of the humour and Blair Hollingworth’s sense of timing and facial expressions make it work. Andrew Stewart, with the height, the looks and the hair stereotypically associated with the high school jock easily carries off the part of Brett.
Matching the guys, Amber Pollock as Patrice, Ruby Winter as Kendra and Catriona Gauld as Lucy all have fine voices and give equally solid performances. Backing them is a confident chorus with many cameo roles and a band that keeps the whole show moving at a cracking pace. The confidence of the cast left me relaxed throughout. I was never in any doubt that they would pull it off and they certainly did not disappoint. With actors like these rising up the future of the the performing arts is in safe hands.
One of the many joys of this production is its inclusiveness, which is a huge tribute to director, Amanda Glover. In educational jargon you could justifiably call it a mixed ability show. Students have not been left out because they are marginally uncoordinated in the dance routines, or slightly stiff their acting or need to improve their tuning from time to time. This is not perfection. This is not the West End. This is raw talent giving it all they’ve got and I defy anyone not to love it.