13: The Musical brings back teen spirit

L to R: Julian Lokash (Archie), Julia Mclean (Patrice), Graham Verchere (Evan), Jason Sakaki (Brett), Kyra Leroux (Kendra), Michelle Creber (Lucy)
Photo Credit: Anita Alberto

Bring On Tomorrow Co’s production of 13 : The Musical, now playing at Waterfront Theatre, brilliantly brings back all the feelings of adolescents.  We’ve all been haunted by the spirits of teen angst but thankfully it’s much more enjoyable watching the trials and tribulations when it’s happening to someone else.

The company, made completely of teenaged actors, bring to life Dan Elish’s story of Evan Goldman.  Ripped from the comfort of his New York City life and plunked into Appleton, Indiana just as he turns 13 years old.  With his Bar Mitzvah plans now thrown into array, Evan must balance the tricky teen worlds of popularity and friendship.

Graham Verchere brings Evan to the stage with a believable awkward innocence of a boy becoming a man, or at least trying to navigate his way to teenhood, with a little help from his friends.  Patrice, literally the girl next door, played beautifully by Julia Maclean, and Archie, Julian Lokash, plays the ‘boy with the terminal illness’ not to be laughed at but laughed with.  While every character has moments of light and dark the powerhouse performance of Michelle Creber as Lucy the main manipulator of the gang, is a girl everyone remembers from school as is Brett, played by Jason Sakaki, the quintessential jock.

Just like back in school, the girls have developed earlier than the boys.  Most of these female performers have rich powerful voices while the adolescent boys bring back those memories and blushes of the occasional cracks and squeaks when you least expect them, bringing even more reality to Jason Robert Brown’s songs.  Chris Adams direction and Nicol Spinola’s choreography work hand in hand to juggle the large ensemble as they recreate the energy of the Dan Quayle Junior High School student body. Christopher David Gauthier’s simple set design makes quick changes to reveal all the halls and rooms of the school.

While Bring On Tomorrow Co’s 13 : The Musical ends on October 8th, if you have the chance get out and see it.  Relive the comedy and tragedy of being 13,  there’s sure to be a character who reminds you of someone you went to school with, if not yourself.

Bring On Tomorrow Co brings us 13: The Musical

L to R: Julian Lokash (Archie), Julia Mclean (Patrice), Graham Verchere (Evan), Jason Sakaki (Brett), Kyra Leroux (Kendra), Michelle Creber (Lucy)
Photo Credit: Anita Alberto

Bring On Tomorrow Co. is thrilled to present Jason Robert Brown’s 13: The Musical, the hilarious and charming Broadway hit about growing up.  It’s a musical everyone can relate to, we’ve all been teenagers.

Uniquely, 13: The Musical features a cast comprised completely of teenagers, the original Broadway run featured a number of now familiar names making their professional debuts like Ariana Grande, Elizabeth Gillies, Eric Nelson and others who have gone on to establish careers in TV, Broadway and Music.  This local production features a fresh cast of teen actors who are already making names for themselves on stage and screen.

“When 13: The Musical made its 2008 debut – as the first-ever Broadway show to feature an all-teenage cast – audiences were taken with its young stars”, says director Chris Adams. “Having teens play teen characters was a winning decision for its creators: no one can better convey an authentic youth’s perspective than those on the front lines of adolescence. In the same spirit, our production showcases some of Vancouver’s most accomplished performers age 18 and under. We can’t wait to unveil their collective magic as they light up the stage.”

With a book written by acclaimed young adult novelist Dan Elish with TV producer & writer Robert Horn, 13: The Musical is set in the uncertain days of middle school, the clever coming of age story follows 12-year-old Evan Goldman who is abruptly yanked from his New York City life in the aftermath of his parents’ divorce. Transplanted to small town Indiana, Goldman finds himself navigating the popularity pecking order, while planning what he hopes will be an epic Bar Mitzvah attended by all the ‘cool kids.’ Amidst love-triangle debacles and matchmaker fiascos, Evan eventually gives up the angst-filled chase for ‘it’ crowd status and marks his first step into adulthood among his real friends.
Take a look at the trailer for Bring On Tomorrow Co’s 13: The Musical

13: The Musical runs September 28 – October 1 and October 4 – 8 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island.
Tickets are onsale now from Bring On Tomorrow Co.

Now Playing – A Christmas Story : The Musical

a-christmas-story-the-musicalA holiday favourite, A Christmas Story, comes to life on stage in new musical version by The Arts Club Theatre Company.   The Tony award nominated A Christmas Story : The Musical brings the nostalgia of the classic 1983 film, in turn based on Jean Sheperd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash”, to stage with new music by Pasek & Paul and book by Joseph Robinette.

The old adage in entertainment is to not work with children and animals. A Christmas Story : The Musical takes neither of those to heart, with a cast of 9 very capable children lead by Valin Shinyei as “Ralphie”, who carries the bulk of the play’s musical numbers in his quest for an Official Red Ryder carbine-action BB gun.  Glen Gordon is perfect as younger brother “Randy” bringing to life some of the great comedic moments of the film.  Coincidentally, Shinyei portrayed “Randy” in the 2012 film sequel.  Parents; “Mother” Meghan Gardiner and especially, Matt Palmer as “the Old Man” add the familial charm to the show. “Narrator” Duff MacDonald fills in the gaps as he moves the story through the lead up to this 1940’s Christmas Day.

While A Christmas Story : The Musical captures all the main plot points of the original work, it’s 2.5 hour (including intermission) feels slightly excessive for a family show.  The original script for the musical called for massive 20 children,  but director/choreographer Valerie Easton paired the cast to 9 children for this smaller scale production.  Both acts could have also benefitted from a scaling down, feeling like a song or two longer than necessary.

Overall, whether you’ve seen the original film or not, A Christmas Story : The Musical is a great show for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season.

The Arts Club Theatre Company’s A Christmas Story : The Musical is now playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage with 8 shows weekly until December 27th (dark Mondays)

Billy Elliot The Musical

Based on the 2000 movie of the same name, Billy Elliot the Musical tells the tale of a young boy who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes and the personal trials and tribulations surrounding his decision.  Set against the Miner’s strikes of Northern England in the mid 80’s, the impact the strife has on motherless Billy and his family if woven throughout the story.
With music by Sir Elton John and book and lyrics by the original films screenwriter Lee Hall, the songs fit in perfectly to advance the story and set the stage for the rest of the book.  Simple sets, eighties costumes and very well done County Durham accents transport the audience to another time and place.  The current Toronto cast is exceptionally lead by Kate Hennig at Mrs Wilkinson, Billy’s dance teacher, confidant and mentor and, in the performance I saw, by Julian Elia as Billy.  With Billy in every nearly every scene there is a revolving four actors playing Billy from day to day.  The entire cast maintains the feeling and atmosphere of the eighties while keeping their accents and emotions throughout the songs.  A good dose of laughs balances the tears and emotion to keep the musical uplifting so everyone leaves on a feel good note.
Billy Elliot The Musical is currently on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre and in Toronto, held over until September 3, 2011, at the Canon Theatre