We went in knowing nothing about this musical. We came out with big smiles on our faces.
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It turns out 13 isn’t so unlucky after all.
The major surprise of the night was how many times we laughed out loud. This is a show with lashings of LOL moments, thanks to a sharp script and some terrific comic performances.
Surprise number two was how polished it was. As a York Musical Theatre Company stage experience production it has been put together in a few short days over summer. You wouldn’t know it.
Meet the gang
The story and setting are familiar teen territory. Evan, a Jewish kid from New York City, finds his life is falling apart – his parents split up and his mum drags him from the Big Apple to Nowheresville, Indiana.
When he arrives at Dan Quayle High School, Evan must negotiate a way of becoming popular enough with his peers to make his Bar Mitzvah party – when he turns 13 – a roaring success. But this doesn’t quite go to plan…
Edward Atkin is hugely likeable as Evan. Yes, his various plans to become popular mostly end in entertaining disasters, but he has a big heart and so we forgive his mistakes.
His gang, memorably described as “the crip, the geek, the Jew and his mother”, are equally impressive (except for the mother, who remains off stage throughout).
Patrice (Alexis Jagger) has a singing voice as warm and sweet as her character. Rattling around the stage on crutches, Robin Morgan puts in a great performance as Archie, a boy whose smart wit and subversive charm makes you look beyond the muscle wasting disease that others think defines him.
Assurance and verve
In fact all the principals are superb. Faye Stainton is a gloriously conniving Lucy, out to quash the romantic hopes of her friend Kendra – a sweetly airheaded turn by Mathilde Barker.
Many of the most humorous moments were generated by school quarter back Brett (Adam Ward) and his sidekicks Eddie (Charley Tong) and Malcolm (Jack Hambleton). Their comic confidence and ability to generate genuine laughs would put many star stand-ups to shame.
The whole company performed with tremendous assurance.
In the confines of the John Cooper Studio, with the audience scarily close to the action, there is no place to hide. They rose to the challenge, with flawless harmonies, impressive dancing, word-perfect dialogue and unalloyed enthusiasm.
Well done to Richard Bainbridge and his team for showcasing the young talent so well in such time-pressed circumstances. And give a hand to the band, led by musical director John Atkin, who were excellent.
Even though there’s no interval the 90-minute show flew by, a testament to the verve of the production.
This gets top marks for a terrifically fun night out. In fact, out of ten, I’d give it… 13.