Thursday, 24 April 2014
13 – A New Musical | Stage Masters
Written by C.C. Williamson   
Monday, 19 December 2011 20:14

“A grown up story about being grown up.”

A young Jewish boy, Evan Goldman (Andrew McKinnon), twelve turning thirteen, greets us with the news of his bar mitzvah. The excitement is shortly ruined by the news that his family has split and he must move from New York, his school and his friends, with his mother, to a country town in Indiana.

The song and dance routines come thick and fast, with what seems like a hundred teens, crushing the stage with enthusiasm and excitement, zest and confidence. The story moves us through heartbreak, abandonment, dislodgement, popularity, hopelessness, rejection and disappointment. All in days work for a thirteen year old in 2011.

With powerful vocal performances from Lucy (Tahlia Tahbone) and best friend ‘hottie’ Kendra (Brianna Bishop), the thirty one strong cast of teenagers create a joyful dynamic and at times, completely engaging story. The only issue that stood out in this production was the inability to 
hear a large amount of the dialogue from the young performers, due to the volume of the live band behind stage, and the low pitched parts of the vocal arrangements.

A highlight of this production came with the musical number entitled ‘Terminal Illness’ performed by Evan and Archie (Frank Dixon) ‘The Geek’, a thirteen-year-old boy with a degenerative muscular disease. The musical number broke out an arthritically hilarious black comedy routine, with the lyrics, ‘No one says no to a boy with a terminal illness, Take it from me, it’s a sure guarantee of success.’ Accompanied by a slightly 'Monty Pythonesque' soft show shuffle riff, despite it’s comic potential feeling under-played, directorially and chorographical, held us accountable to the light side of a dark situation, in a way only teenagers can innocently express.

Brenton Van Vliet’s lighting design was reminiscent of a blue light disco, fashionable neon army camouflage dappling the walls and flooring spontaneously, and stylistically indicative of a Dan Flavin installation, working well to set the theme of youth, vitality and contemporary era. The set design by David Bramble was white, versatile, and featured a detachable rostra style seating bank that could be wheeled in to form a stadium bench, creating interesting levels, and block the archway to form a solid wall in the centre of the set, where once and archway stood.

13 – A New Musical has left personal wonderment of the complexity and intensity of what it means to be thirteen in contemporary Australian society. The production, set in Indiana in the United States with the lead theme being centered around a Jewish boy’s coming-of-age to manhood, does knead out a questioning of whether the themes are universal or specific to the culture? Both are equally as interesting. Being thirteen, in my day, did not feature such sexually provocative monsters as ‘The Tongue’, or maybe I have just uncovered what a dag I really am. Who knows…all I can say however is, hanging out with these thirty-one thirteen year olds, on Saturday night, was definitely entertaining and a lot of fun.


Stage Masters presents
13 – A New Musical
music and lyrics Jason Robert Brown | book Dan Elish and Robert Horn

Directed by Jess Benney and David Venn

Venue: Randall Theatre, St Martin’s Youth Theatre, St Martin's Lane, Toorak
Dates: 14 – 18 December, 2011
Bookings: Ticketmaster.com.au | 136 100

Pin It

Comments (0)

Subscribe to this comment's feed

Write comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy
 
PozibleAustralian Stage JobsMembers Area
 

More 2014 Comedy Festival Reviews

Circus Under My Bed | Flying Fruit Fly Circus
The Flying Fruit Fly Circus’ latest Circus Under My Bed, part of the Melbourne...
Wake In Sleight | Reginald D Hunter
Maybe it's because Reginald D Hunter wants to be known as a man who needs no i...
Waiting For My Real Life... | Colin Hay
Hay must have been born under a lucky star which has enabled him with the gift...
Kraken | Don't Be Lonely and Theatre Beating
Kraken looks simple in its make-up, but it packs a mighty punch. One man, one...
Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas | The Axis of Awesome
Rocking their unique brand of musical comedy and gaining fans from around the...
Death in Bowengabbie
Much of the strength in this production lies with how vividly the characters a...
Like Me, Love Me, Retweet Me | Jordana Borensztajn
Borensztajn has warmth and charm, and she’s a confident and very likeable pres...
FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out | Zoe McDonald
What McDonald has created is a finely tuned performance where each intricate m...

Most Read MELBOURNE Reviews

FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out | Zoe McDonald
What McDonald has created is a finely tuned performance where each intricate movement, tone and mannerism is explored and p...
Kraken | Don't Be Lonely and Theatre Beating
Kraken looks simple in its make-up, but it packs a mighty punch. One man, one stage, three pairs of underpants. And lycra....
Wake In Sleight | Reginald D Hunter
Maybe it's because Reginald D Hunter wants to be known as a man who needs no introduction that he took to the stage with th...
Death in Bowengabbie
Much of the strength in this production lies with how vividly the characters and settings are performed by Youngman, so muc...
Like Me, Love Me, Retweet Me | Jordana Borensztajn
Borensztajn has warmth and charm, and she’s a confident and very likeable presence on stage. More than anything she is prof...