From the first moments to the soaring finale, Bring On Tomorrow Co.'s production of 13, The Musical is an absolute winner. It hits the ground running with an opening number that bursts with adolescent energy, sharp humour and catchy music. From there it just keeps going. I highly recommend this amazing production!
Evan Goldstein is a New York City kid whose parents have split up – and as a result he finds himself transplanted to a tiny Midwestern town, where he desperately tries to fit in. His one goal is to have a successful Bar Mitzvah - which for him means that all the "cool kids" in town must be in attendance. But in pursuing his goal, he mistreats or abandons the two people who should be his true friends. As played engagingly by Graham Verchere, with a self-deprecating, Michael Cera-like charm, we see past Evan's misguided decisions and root for him to finally figure out what's really important.
A hallmark of the original Broadway production of this show was the casting of actual teenagers to play people roughly their own age. This show follows that formula to immensely satisfying effect, with a polished cast of young people who make a powerful impression with their triple-threat talents. Many have already racked up impressive credentials, but others are getting their first chance to really shine - and all of them deliver, big time.
The opening night show crackled with energy, and each number seemed to bring more applause than the last. At least once there was a mid-song change-of-pace section whose wrap-up stopped the show with an ovation - and the main song wasn't even done yet!
There are soaring harmonies, boy-band soul balladeering, and even some tap dancing - all of it done with panache.
In a uniformly strong cast, standouts include the aforementioned Graham Verchere (as well as his twin brother Toby), and Julia Maclean as Patrice, one of the uncool outsiders who thinks she's found a kindred spirit in Evan but then finds herself let down by him. Then there's Julian Lokash, who gets tons of unlikely laughs as Archie, a bubbly but love-starved geek whose crutches mark him as an outsider, too. His enthusiasm and craftiness make him an endearing and hilarious presence. And Michelle Creber stakes out her antagonist role with a strong, take-no-prisoners relish. But this is a show where everyone has at least one memorable moment.
The crack band, led by veteran Michael Creber, effortlessly delivers a powerful sound that ranges from rock to funk to soul – and a bit of reggae for good measure.
The story is true to the self-doubt, insecurity and social challenges so many experience in the early teen years. And the score by Jason Robert Brown manages to straddle the line between laugh-out-loud humour and an authentic teenage voice, paired with catchy, ever-shifting melodies that you want to hear again.
13, The Musicalis an outstanding showcase for some impressive talent. Whether your teenage years are still ongoing or well in the past, there's something here that will resonate with you. Catch this stellar show while you can.