13 THE MUSICAL, presented by Sketch Club Players at Woodbury, celebrates the magical 13th birthday, which marks the transition from childhood to adolescence. It is arguably the most important of birthdays, especially for Jewish youngsters, who traditionally become men or women on that day. As Evan Goldman (Jacob Horner) approaches his Bar Mitzvah, he is faced with other big changes in his life. His parents are separated and his mother tells him that they are moving from New York City to Indiana. Evan, who was really looking forward to his big day and a wonderful party, now has to find a new school and new friends.
Friends are not easy to come by in his new surroundings, but Evan finds one in Patrice (Kayleigh Whitmore), a neighbor. Once school starts, he meets other people, including Brett (TJ Young or Isaiah Ellis), who is highly popular but afraid to ask Kendra (Emily Kate Onimus), the prettiest girl in school, for a date. Evan suggests that he ask her to a scary movie, which he does, and she accepts. Brett now thinks Evan is really cool, so Evan invites him to his Bar Mitzvah party, thinking that everyone else will come if he does. However, Patrice feels that she cannot come because no one else likes her. Evan tears up her invitation and she is hurt.
Then along comes Archie (Chris Barron), a handicapped boy “born with a terminal illness” but equipped with a wry sense of humor. He too is a friend of Patrice, and he doesn’t like what Evan did to her. However, he offers to make thing right between the two if Evan will get him a date with Kendra. And when Brett asks Evan to get his mother to buy movie tickets for the whole class, Archie uses his disability to talk her into it. Soon all are watching the movie, with Brett on one side of Kendra and Archie on the other, and when Brett tries to kiss Kendra, hilarious disaster results. More romantic complications ensue, including Kendra’s “best friend” Lucy (Karly Jeffers) trying to steal Brett. As things begin to work out, Evan understands what growing up means and the value of true friendship.
The exuberance of the youthful cast is infectious, especially in the song and dance numbers. All are (or appear to be) teen-agers, but these kids are experienced actors! And not only in high school musicals. Some have appeared at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, the Broadway Theatre of Pitman, and other professional venues. They are all excellent, especially Jacob Horner as Evan and Chris Barron as Archie. Kudos must go to Jason Mangano, the director and choreographer, and Jack Hill, the musical director. Hill is also part of the wonderful three-piece rock band that appears on stage with the actors throughout the show.
Finally, the program says that the show is about “the labels that last a lifetime.” Perhaps, but it’s also about living and the experiences of our youth that influence the rest of our lives.
13 THE MUSICAL
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn
Directed by Jason Mangano
September30-October 9, 2011
Sketch Club Players
433 Glover Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096-2623