TRCH Nov 19

Review: 13 The Musical at the Squire Performing Arts Centre

4 November 19 words: Bea Udeh

This was a glitzy musical theatre production about the teenage angst will make you smile with Glee. Get it?  

Before the performance begins, the audience can appreciate the set of 13 The Musical. The number 13 is free standing at 1.5m tall in bright lights, setting us up for a party or celebration.  Three social media logos on one-meter boards line the left-hand side of the stage, mirrored on the right-hand side too. Welcome to the world of teenage angst, ‘awkward’ situations, flaring hormones and the first thing that struck me really good American accents.

13 The Musical tells the story of a group of American teenagers navigating their way through a week or so of pubescent experiences. The show starts with main character Evan Goldman (William Horner) getting hyped for his upcoming Bar Mitvah before many things construe to stop this from happening.

Enter Evan, who places us all in a state of anticipation when he learns that he has to change schools, make new friends decieve his mum, negotiate friendships, deal with bullies and romantic interests and reconcile himself with his Jewish faith. It’s all done very convincingly too there’s not a twang of “M’duck!” or ‘’Reet’ in sight.   

Copper Studios, led by director Harry Hindley and choreographer Megan Hindley, have brought this revival to the stage with their first full-scale musical production, starring a cast of fourteen young actors aged 10-14 years. The sustained levels of energy bursting from the stage was impressive for such a young cast, yet there were apt moments of gravitas and comedic self-reflection with appearances by the Rabbi (Louis Chadburn) and also with wheelchair student user, Archie (Harry Steel).

A lack of head-set microphones among the cast meant it was sometimes difficult to appreciate the fullness of the content, however the music and lyrics (Jason Robert Brown) and book (Dan Eilish and Robert Horn) had the right amount of over-the-edge content to take this from being a twee, non-story about teenagers to a tongue in cheek tale with juxtaposing references to ‘tongueing’, the drug Ritalin and muscular debilitating terminal disease. 

The tight, yet flowing performance was under-scored by a stellar music band who kept this fun, foot-tapping production to the rhythm of the youngsters angst and tribulations.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Copper Studios presentation of 13 The Musical, but the ending of the production might just sum it up. Bringing things full circle, Archie sings, “If that’s what it is,” reminding us that teenage life is a cycle that repeats to shape our choices, behaviours and attitudes that shape us into the adults we will become.

Bea Udeh visited the Squires Performing Arts Centre (SPACE) in Nottingham to watch the opening amateur production of 13 The Musical.

Squire Performing Arts Centre website