Enthusiastic audience appreciates ‘13: The Musical’

Gordon Jones
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With a cast of 13 teenage actors and a six-piece, onstage band, “13: The Musical” opened Thursday at the LSPU Hall before an enthusiastic, full-house audience with a high proportion of parents and school friends.

Matthew Hardy and Caitlin Harte are two of the lead actors in “13: The Musical,” playing until Sunday at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s.

A young Jewish boy, Evan Goldman, whose thirteenth birthday is approaching, is enrolled in a new school when he moves with his mother from metropolitan New York to small-town Indiana, the loneliest place in the world, if we are to credit the lyrics of Evan’s first song.

It will surprise no one in the audience to learn there are problems of adjustment in the adolescent and educational labyrinth — but that in due course the youngster will acquire a cute girlfriend, not to mention a Best Friend.

The junior-high students have fun and make out, they go to watch scary movies, they compete for dates. They don’t seem to spend much time in class. In fact, do they spend any time at all in class?

Is this plot rather familiar? Yes, I think we have been here before.

Still, cheerful and energetic, the material is performed exuberantly by the young actors, with through-sung dialogue to the accompaniment of the band and a cheerleading team, even if the musical score and lyrics are often bland.

Sterling work is done by the young company, headed by male and female leads Matthew Hardy, Caitlin Harte, Andrew Hepditch, Maggie Follett, Ryan Aspell and Lauren Shallow, strongly supported and complemented by Kyle Dalton, Mackenzie Drover, Ben Halfyard, Jenny Mallard, Callum McGann, Hannah Wadman-Scanlan and Nathan Mackey.

The opening night performance was enthusiastically and deservedly received by a partisan and standing audience.

Directed by Timothy Matson, with musical direction and choreography by Kiersten Noel and Jessa Vokey and band direction by Emily Follett, the Best Kind production of “13: The Musical” continues at the LSPU Hall until Sunday, with nary a teacher in sight onstage.

Curtain time is 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday there are 2 p.m. matinees as well as evening performances. With no intermission, running time, including two lively curtain calls, is 100 minutes.

Geographic location: New York, Indiana

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