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Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title 13, the Musical
Organization Rocklin Community Theatre
Date(s) of show September 27 - October 26, 2013
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review This was the sixth time Iíve seen a production of ď13, the MusicalĒ in recent years, and I have some great memories of past shows. But I was really looking forward to Rocklin Community Theatreís version because itís fundamentally a great show. Iíll confess, though, that I was a little nervous, sitting in the dark and waiting for it to begin. I was nervous because, to me, the show depends on the main character of 13-year-old Evan, and Iíve seen some Evans who werenít quite credible in the role. But when the lights went up, this Evan (Brett Young) seized control of the stage and went into his first song with such confidence and style that my anxieties were put to rest.

Brett is really13 (and most of the kids in the cast could at least pass for 13), and from that first number, I was impressed with his strong voice. Actually, I have to add that I heard many remarkably good solo voices last night. Iíve seen productions that suffered from the vocal limitations of good young actor, but there was none of that here. Not all the singers were equally strong, but hey, theyíre supposed to be 13 years old, so a slightly immature voice is realistic. That said, I heard half a dozen kids who had really outstanding voices. And when they put that song across in character, it was real musical theater.

The musical score of this show is one of its great strengths. Itís mostly rock music, and, to me, it was toe-tapping fun from beginning to end. And the 6-piece band really rocked. But so did the kids. There was a lot of cute choreography, and the kids really got into it. The dance moves werenít always in perfect synchronization, but it seemed to me that each young performer was inspired Ė sometimes even possessed.

Speaking of choreography, itís obvious that every director has many opportunities for putting their own creative stamp on a production Ė sometimes a brilliant one. For example, Iíll never forget the dancing rabbis in Placer High Schoolís production of ď13Ē a few years ago. In this show, a similar highlight was ďBeing a Geek.Ē Actually, this number wasnít even included in some of the recent productions of ď13Ē that Iíve seen. But last night, I was artfully staged and screamingly funny. Years from now, Iíll remember this number. If they had it on YouTube, Iíd watch it again and again.

Last night I was aware that there was hardly any set or set pieces, and the scene was mostly created by a projected image on a screen to the right of the main stage. But in the final analysis, it didnít matter. The main thing, apart from the music, was the wonderful comedy, and it seemed to me that these young actors (guided by their directors, of course) capitalized on the potential of each comic opportunity. It may have been the sixth time Iíd seen the show, but I laughed all the way through.

To me, the casting was very nearly perfect. I was about to mention the kids individually, but I stopped when I recalled that this show is mostly double-cast. I saw the New York Cast, but I bet the Indiana Cast is as fun to watch as the players I saw last night. Not only was the acting strong, but there were various points in the show where an ensemble member or minor character had the opportunity to dance or sing out front, and I could see that the talent in this production ran deep.

Eventually the action drew to a close, and all the players took their bows. Those of us in the audience applauded enthusiastically, thinking it was all over. But they gave us one more big encore so full of energy and joy that we were all on our feet before it was completely over. This last number Ė like the whole show Ė was dazzling. And of the six productions Iíve seen, I think it will rank as my favorite.

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