13 | PlayloversThe next generation of musical theatre superstars hit the stage last night in Jason Robert Brown’s musical, 13, which is a coming of age story for a group of tweens in a small town in America.

The story begins with our lead character, Evan, played by Seamus Harrison about to turn 13 and have his bat mitzvah. But his parents split up and he is relocated to the country with his mom before he can enjoy the party.

As he settles in to his new home, Evan meets a delightful girl named Patrice, played by Stephanie Shaw, and the two become firm friends. It is only when he starts school a month later that he realises that Patrice is a social outcast and he is left to choose between being popular with the cool kids, and being a loyal friend.

The themes are of course about dating, friendship, betrayal and tongue kissing; all the highly relevant topics when one emerges from childhood and starts to look around with a slightly more worldly view.

Director Kimberley Shaw had the arduous but fortunate task of auditioning approximately 130 young people for the 13 roles. That she was spoiled for choice is evident by the effort and professionalism that the ensemble cast display. Twins Maddison and Bianca Thomas had beautiful gymnastic ability and Luis Barnes, who played the supporting role of Malcolm also had some mad tumbling skills.

Chloe Marlow took a while to shake out her nerves and excitement, but as soon as she focussed on her part she was absolutely riveting. What a glorious voice this little girl has, and her commitment to character, especially her unique facial expressions, was also excellent.

Hamish Briggs challenged himself in 13 by shelving his dancing prowess and spending the entire show on crutches. His character, Archie, has a degenerative muscle condition and Briggs maintained the physicality of this illness consistently throughout the show.

13 is a full length musical and a lot of responsibility fell to the lead actors, particularly Harrison, who executed a practically flawless performance. The entire cast of youngsters did a wonderful job, which is not surprising given that quite a lot of them already have professional theatre, film and performance credits.  

Not only were they teenagers on stage, young people populated the crew and band as well. Director Kimberley Shaw used a teenaged Musical Director, Choreographer, Lighting Designer and Operator, Sound Designer, Set Designer, Stage Manager and crew. This is a great way of nurturing and mentoring the next generation of theatre makers.

13 is part of the Perth Fringe Festival.

Playlovers present
by Jason Robert Brown

Director Kimberley Shaw

Venue: Hackett Hall | Draper Street, Floreat, WA
Dates: 4 – 14 February, 2015 
Bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au

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