Presented by Adelaide Theatre Academy
Reviewed 11 Oct 2019
Adelaide Theatre Academy are becoming known for producing high quality youth productions, including Little Shop Of Horrors, Singin’ In The Rain, Xanadu and Oliver!.13 The Musical is another success to add to their growing collection.
Adelaide Theatre Academy is an extension of the successful theatre education school, Theatre Bugs, and is aimed at students aged 12 – 18 to help them develop a pathway to higher quality performing arts training.
Director Matt Houston, musical directors Millicent Sarre and Ben Francis along with choreographers Georgia Brass and Jemma Allen have cast this production extremely well. It’s not an easy feat producing any Jason Robert Brown show, but this production team have done wonders. Each member in their own right is a phenomenal performer, and it was pleasing to see them share their craft with this young, effervescent cast. Houston has balanced the comedy and drama of the script extremely well, and Sarre and Francis have drilled the cast well in their vocals – which is often not an easy task with a score as complex as this one. Ben also conducted the live band (Jack Strempel, Paul Dao, Jake Dawson, Jayden Dawson and Ethan Hurn) and kept the pace of the show moving.
The choreography of the show should also get special mention. I have noticed over the years with co-choreographers that sometimes there is a conflict of styles and teaching approaches and the end result can be disjointed. However, Brass and Allen have clearly worked as a unified team and created fun routines that suited all levels of ability from their casts.
13 The Musical’s story centres around three social misfits and how they fit into the pecking order of their school.
Jaxon Joy, in the lead role of Evan, encapsulates the character perfectly. From awkward first conversations with the hot girl of the school, to the over-confident bravado in an attempt to fit in with the school jocks, Jaxon’s character work was excellent. He also handled the majority of JRB’s complex score with ease, although at times his upper register let him down slightly.
Emily Fischer, as Patrice, captures the majority of the role wonderfully. She found the right level of humour and heart-ache, bringing some warmth and depth to this role. Like Jaxon, she handled the score almost perfectly, but a few performance nerves did creep in at times.
Tim Wilson was cast as Archie, who suffers from a degenerative illness that results in him needing to use crutches to aid his mobility. Along with the careful direction of Matt Houston, Tim handles the role with care and respect, never overstepping the line into the dark zone of mocking a person with such an illness. Tim’s character work is wonderful, never dropping his character, and his vocals are showing great potential with further coaching.
A standout performance in this production was Imogen Brown, playing the popular girl of the school, Lucy. Imogen has phenomenal stage presence and captures all the nuances of Lucy. Not only is Imogen a solid actor, but her vocal abilities are to be commended. Imogen is certainly a performer that with continued training will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.
Charlotte (Lara Di Girolami), Molly (Emily Rawlings) and Cassie (Trinity Dent) were all part of Lucy’s clique group, as well as Kendra (Yasmin Smith), the love interest of several of the boys. Yasmin plays the sweet, loveable Kendra well, and her light, musical voice shone through her solos. Lara, Emily and Trinity played the best friends of Lucy wonderfully, each bringing the right amount of sass to the rolls. The trio, when singing together, especially during the encore, had a tight blend.
Ethan Wright (Brett – the jock of the school) and the production team should be commended for finding some depth to this character, as it can easily be presented one dimensional, but Ethan had great light and shade to the delivery of his dialogue. Every school jock has their support group, and special mention must go to Oliver Lawes (Richie), Caitlin Tyler (Malcolm), Ethan Joy (Eddie) and Erica Norman (Simon), who had strong stage presence without drawing too much attention from the main action on stage. Their group number, Bad Bad News, was a highlight of this production. Each performer is brilliant in their own right, but together they were a tour-de-force.
No production is complete without an ensemble, and special mention must go to this one. They portrayed the various school groups excellently, and executed the choreography and musical numbers with great energy.
Sadly, 13 The Musical only ran for a short season, but I highly recommend you keep an eye out for future Adelaide Theatre Academy productions – you certainly won’t be let down by the quality of their productions.
Reviewed by Ben Stefanoff
Photo Credit: Treasured Memories Photography
Disclaimer: Ben Francis is a reviewer for the Arts section of Glam Adelaide