Printable Copy13: THE MUSICAL
Adelaide Theatre Academy
Goodwood Institute Theatre
Until 11 Oct 2019

Review by Helen Karakulak

Adelaide Theatre Academy’s performance of “13 The Musical” presented a force of enthusiastic young performers navigating the awkward adolescent tale of Evan Goldman, trying to find his place in the popularity pecking order of his new school.

The show’s quickness to villainise a 13-year-old girl, frequently labelling various female characters as ‘sluts’ along with some of its commentary on religion can come across as troubling at first. This is rather a criticism on the book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn rather than this performance itself. However, it’s humour can be seen as relevant to the experience of students, and the overarching focus on resisting peer pressure and valuing your friends for who they are rather than who you want them to be, is certainly noble and undoubtably why 13 The Musical is such a popular choice amongst youth theatre ensembles.

The ‘New York Cast’, who performed on the night of review start strong. Ben Gray was an endearing and energetic Evan, engagingly breaking the fourth wall to make witty comments regarding the course of events unfolding. Gray’s dedication to the role was evident, which made it unfortunate to see his confidence in his performance decline as the show progressed. However, despite seeming nervous in some places, he regained control notably when performing alongside Samantha Keogh’s Patrice, with the duo’s realistic characterisation and soft vocals complimenting each other.

Keogh’s Patrice was a delight to watch. Commanding the stage with her strong vocals, her character had a youthful spark that made her instantly likeable.

Maddie Nunn brought a cheeky confidence to the unlikable Lucy, with her assertive characterisation suitably conquering her time on stage.

Jayden Ayling’s Archie was composed and optimistic, making him easy to sympathise with. His character’s likability is fuelled by the desire to root for a deserving underdog, rather than the alternatively obnoxious characters that deem him an outcast.

The band, led by Ben Francis, is enjoyable, but unfortunately there were times where the cast were fighting to be heard. There were a number of microphone issues throughout the performance, resulting in too-frequent overpowering sounds of rising static. This could be a vault of the venue, however there were a few other moments in which the mics hadn’t had the volume adjusted in time, which was a shame.

Jason Robert Brown’s music and lyrics are catchy but challenging, seeing some soloists struggle. Although the vocals were inconsistently polished, the performers certainly gave it their all.

Unfortunately, with such a large ensemble, numbers which included all performers on stage was more cluttered than coordinated. However, the ensemble’s talent was especially highlighted in numbers such as ‘opportunity’ in which Nunn leads a smaller group of preppy cheerleaders in a song of scheme. It was well choreographed, with the cheerleaders poised and in time with one another. Simple but effective lighting was used to compliment the tone of this number, with a red wash covering the stage.

Overall, 13 The Musical is a bright and cheerful production. Although certain technical difficulties, lack of precision vocals and crowed choreography was distracting at times, the cast were undoubtedly enthusiastic. The eagerness of the young performers that were clearly enjoying themselves throughout, gave the show high energy and allowed the production to remain entertaining.