Looks Like Teen Spirit in 13: THE MUSICAL

by Lesley Grigg

Adolescent angst, check. Raging hormones, check. Rumor spreading, clique forming, and newbie hazing; check, check, and check. Now that we have all the fixings of a typical teenage drama, let’s add some singing and dancing to make it a little more entertaining. The result is the newest production from Acting Naturally, 13: THE MUSICAL. The characters in this coming-of-age story are well cast with talented teens who not only have the opportunity to act naturally as young adults trying to fit in, but who can also showcase their ability to sing, dance, act, and shine individually and as a group.

The play starts strong with the full cast singing about turning thirteen, all led by Evan (Dan Booda) who sings about becoming a man at his upcoming Bar Mitzvah and some of the hardships he’s already facing. Holding the lead role becomes one of the hardships for Booda, who is convincing at first but then seems weighed down by the number of songs and scenes by the end of Act I, leading to a few awkward pauses and transitions. His singing ability is only overwhelmed by the band (Austin Johnson, Jonathon Cottone, Matt Miller, and Bob Kashinsky), but this turns out to be an issue with many of the solos, including those from Evan’s new-found friend, Patrice (Brynn Jacobs). When talking with Evan, Patrice is sweet, smart, and a little cheeky, but when at school she is labeled as an outcast. Jacobs fills the part well with a lyrical voice and smart wit, but it’s a mystery as to why her character would be unpopular…maybe that’s the point.

It doesn’t take long for the hormones to take over when Brett (Wyatt McManus), Malcolm (Steven Rimdzius), and Eddie (Spencer Ostrowsky), part of the popular pack, sing about the school dream-girl, Kendra (Lauren Esser). They “set the mood” with a humorous ditty about how Brett plans to win her affections. Rimdzius and Ostrowsky provide excellent backup, in both song and character, to the cool but clueless McManus, who oozes teen dreaminess, at least according to some of the girls in the audience.

Every clique needs a funny friend. and that’s what Archie (Evan Kashinsky) provides for Evan and Patrice. He doesn’t let his handicap slow him down, in fact it’s part of his charm. Kashinsky is full of charm as he brings this character to life with on-point vocals and comedic timing.

What’s a school drama without someone to start the rumors? That’s what Lucy (Sylvia Fisher) brings to the table. Sure, she seems like a great friend at first, but that sweet smile turns to catty sass when backs are turned, and Fisher pulls it all off with flair.

Once the teen turmoil starts to cool, we start to learn the moral to the story and witness the character growth. We also see some of the supporting characters blossom. It was great to see other cast members featured in the last musical number, including Cassie (Serena Weil), Charlotte (Kimmy Graham) and Molly (Christina Pullen). During their solos, Weil and Pullen gave it their all and Graham really shined in both song and spirit.

The rest of the cast included Richie (Connor McDowell), Simon (Brandon Fean), the Rabbi (Brian Flatley), the Rabbi’s Assistant (Bryce Ritz) and Victoria Vouk, and everyone closed out the play as strongly as it started.

Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn
Directed by Wendy Force McBride
July 18-21, 2013
Acting Naturally
at Maureen M. Welch Auditorium
750 New Rd.
Southampton, PA 18966

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