13 THE MUSICAL
Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Dan Elish & Robert Horn.
5 Stars *****
The Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London WC2 9 ND to 23 August 2017.>
21 Aug 2 pm; 22 Aug 5pm & 8pm; 23 Aug 12pm, 4pm &8pm.
Runs 85 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7395 5465.
Review: William Russell 18 August.
Bar Mitzvah Joy
This very funny rock musical is presented with three casts by the British Theatre Academy and show cases some of their students to dazzling effect. The show is a send up of all those Hollywood high school musicals – the writers certainly know their sources – in which the new boy falls foul of the resident lot, falls for the outcast girl, is taken up and dropped by the Jock and his acolytes and learns a thing or two about life in the process. The jokes may be familiar but the cast I saw delivered them with charm, precision and boundless energy. Jason Robert Brown’s score is nothing special – it is hard to tell one song from the next one – but it has a resonant beat and presents the cast with no great musical challenges other than getting the rather good lyrics across and hitting the note which they do with skill.
It is said they are all thirteen years of age, and that may indeed by the case. Whether they are stars in the making is neither here nor there. Time will prove that. But they are on the top of their game at the moment – several have been in West End shows already – and have been effectively drilled by director and choreographer Ewan Jones.
The plot is simple. New Yorker Evan, played by a sparkling pint sized bundle of energy called Milo Panni, is facing up to his Bar Mitzvah when his parents split up and mother takes him to live in small town Indiana. The most important thing in his life is his Bar Mitzvah should be attended by all the very best people at school. Naturally he makes friends with the outcasts, tries to manipulate things – he is a boy who always has a plan – and falls foul of Brett, the resident Jock, a big Jessie at heart, played to the hilt by te not quite a hunk Leslie Ledlie and the two prom queens, dim but desired Kendra, played by Chloe Endean as nice but thick, and vamp and schemer Lucy played to effect by Isabella Papas.
He also befriends Archie, an outcast with a fatal disease who needs crutches, done with aplomb by Ethan Quinn . None of this matters. Evan learns his lesson in the end, gets the nice girl, fellow outcast Patrice charmingly played by Madeline Banbury, none of the rotters attend his Bar Mitzvah and it does not matter.
If the other casts are as good as the one I saw then the BTAis doing a terrific job in not creating the all too familiar horrible and precocious stage children of the past. 13 the Musical is not the greatest musical ever, but this production is a delight from beginning to end and the cast I saw was superb.
Evan: Milo Panni.
|Archie: Ethan Quinn.
Brett: Lewis Ledlie.
Malcom: Alex Thomas
Eddie: Daniel Osei.
Richie: Ahmed Khemolie.
Simon: George Littell.
Patrice: Madeline Banbury.
Lucy: Isabella Papas.
Kendra: Chloe Endean.
Cassie: Ellie Sayer.
Charlotte: Effie Ogino.
Director & Choreographer: Ewan Jones.
Musical Director: Chris Ma.
Set & Costume Design: Tom Paris.
Sound Design: Andrew Johnson.
Musical Supervisor: James Taylor.
Associate Director & Choreographer: Katy Stephens.