Middle School Production of “13” Nails Adolescent Angst
From the moment the Middle School musical, “13” opened, audiences knew they were in for a fun ride. The upbeat opening number laid out the premise of the story. On the cusp of the age of 13, Evan Goldman is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah while his life has been upended. His parents are getting divorced and he’s moved from New York City to — gasp — Appleton, Indiana.
Life as Evan knows it is over as he attempts to navigate through new complex social circles and convince the cool kids to attend his Bar Mitzvah, which he hopes will be the social event of the season. In order to get them to come, Evan must persuade his mom to buy tickets for everyone to an R-rated horror film so Brett, the star football player, can go on a date with Kendra, the popular cheerleader. Meanwhile, Evan befriends Patrice, an outcast who is smitten with him, but the popular kids threaten to not attend the Bar Mitzvah if he invites her. Evan faces the dilemma of whether to invite his true friend and risk being alienated by the cool kids or invite the in crowd and risk losing one of his few friends.
The 90-minute show, which captured all the awkwardness of adolescence, featured strong performances from the entire cast. It touched on the themes of fitting in, choosing friends, and not losing sight of who you are. Lots of humorous and fun moments throughout the show elicited plenty of laughs from the audience. The comedic turns of Brett’s sidekicks, Malcolm and Eddie, and their choreographed backup singer moves provided laughs in songs like the hilarious slow groove “Hey Kendra.”
Catchy tunes punctuated this edgy coming-of-age musical, which explored middle school angst. Musical Director Sarah Shapiro ’02 noted that “13” composer Jason Robert Brown is known for creating shows of musical complexity with scores featuring changing rhythms, unconventional harmony, and wide vocal range. The opening number featured 47 time signature changes. “Our students have worked incredibly hard to learn their parts and harmonies to a variety of songs that capture different styles from Brown’s signature pop to a Barry White-esque funk to a country hoedown,” she remarked. According to Director Rami Raff, this is the first Middle School show in more than a decade to use a live band to accompany the performance.
Raff went on to explain why they chose the musical. “We thought it would resonate with middle school students and wanted to go the opposite direction from last year's show,Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr., to something that was neither a period piece nor more traditional in its book, in order to change things up. And, we loved the music, which is a vibrant, rich and complex score.”
Audiences are in for a real treat with this cheeky, high energy musical comedy. There are two remaining performances: January 31 and February 1 at 7:00 PM. Buy your tickets online at www.milkenschool.org/tickets
Milken School is a college prep private day school in Los Angeles established on the foundation of the highest academic standards and Jewish values. This Jewish Day School serves students in grades 7-12.