March 12th, 2017
The lights dim around the auditorium, and the audience immediately quiets down while the curtains finally open. Jace Franco takes centerstage to immediately begin the beginning musical number as Evan Goldman with the cast joining in, drawing the audience in even more. The show ended, leaving the audience wanting more of the show, filled with song and dance numbers, comedy, and fantastic acting from Atholton students.
Atholton’s theater department presented 13, a musical about a Jewish boy preparing for his Bar Mitzvah while in the midst of his parents divorce and his own relocation, on March 2nd, 3rd and 4th. There were four showings of the musical: Thursday and Friday at 7pm and Saturday at 2pm and 7pm.
The musical follows Evan Goldman, a boy turning 13 whose life is turned upside down by his parents’ divorce, which in turn forces the pre-teen to move from New York City to Appleton, Indiana. Once in Indiana, he loses sight of what is important in search of popularity. Once in Indiana, Evan becomes quick friends with his nextdoor neighbor, Patrice, and her friend, Archie. At school he is fast to learn by befriending these two people, he had ensured his spot at the bottom of the social pyramid. Evan, concerned with his popularity, ends up publicly humiliating Patrice in hopes of the popular kids coming to his Bar Mitzvah by ripping up Patrice’s invitation. Finally by the end of the show, Evan found that popularity was not worth losing his closest friends and hurting them in the process.
Jace Franco, a freshman who played Evan, said, “13 was an awesome choice for Atholton because, although it is telling the story of 13 year olds, the message can apply to high schoolers all the same.”
13 was perfect for a high school performance; the energy-filled musical depicted realistic events, allowing the audience to empathize with the characters, and actors, onstage. The musical is able to reach out to teen and adult audience members alike and reflect on the “difficult” life of a middle schooler. Most people could find themselves within any one of the characters being portrayed on stage, whether it be Evan, Lucy, the mean popular girl, or Patrice, the social outcast. Besides personally relating to the show, audience members enjoyed the dialogue and songs packed full of laughs. The football players were a source of comedic relief as they played very stereotypical middle-school-aged jocks with lines such as “real fine, not fake fine” and the song “Hey Kendra” filled with pick-up lines the boys had made . Sarah Fishkind, a sophomore at Atholton said her favorite part were “the football boys because they were funny.”
Opening night, while the cast and crew got together to prepare for the night ahead of them, Franco said, “Opening night is different than anything else. The energy felt by the performers is electrifying and everything is really better.”
The show has few props, but the stage crew still had a lot on their hands due to the light show that took place in the background, designed by senior Nick Balmadier. Colored lights drowned the stage to create different moods for various scenes, helping the audience feel like part of the action onstage. Paniz Nafisi, a sophomore at River Hill, came to see the play for one of her friends and said she would have wanted more background equipment, but that the light show “made up for it.”
Grace Yun, a member of the stage crew, said that to prepare for the shows, “we get ready and practice with the other actors. We get them miked and then do sound check with all of the actors.” Yun, who joined this year, said she will participate in other plays and shows because of how much fun she had this spring.
The play also stood out due to the rock inspired music of the show and the actors impressive singing. Yun said, “The music was really catchy, and I still have all of the songs stuck in my head.” Nafisi also found herself really enjoying the music, saying it was her favorite part and even calling it “phenomenal.”
Listening to the songs was very enjoyable, but it must have been even better for the performers considering Franco said he would play the soundtrack 24/7 to learn his lines.
13 was a fun musical for the cast, crew, and audience. As Franco said, “High school productions are able to, first off, bond the people in the show, [then] reach the people watching the show, and as I said, it’s really fun.”