REVIEW: Edinburgh Fringe – Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre present 13 by Jason Robert Brown, C Venue C

This post was originally written for and published  by The Public Reviews

Book: Dan Elish and Robert Horn

Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

Director: Richard Poynton

Musical Director: David Easto

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

12 year old Evan Goldman is having a difficult time – his parents are in the midst of a divorce and his all-important Bar Mitzvah is looming. To make matters worse his mother announces they are leaving their life in New York for the quiet town of Appleton, Indiana.

Part of the Fringe experience is searching for a star of the future, but this reviewer didn’t think it would come in the form of a kid playing a 12 year old on the eve of his Bar Mitzvah. The maturity and surety of touch that Tom Slade brings to the role of Evan in Jason Robert Brown’s 13, is a jaw-dropping joy to watch. His subtly nuanced performance would put many adult actors to shame. This combined with a clear as a bell tenor voice makes him a sure fire star. The rest of Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre don’t disappoint either, bringing this Tony Award-winning show to Edinburgh with a professionalism that belies their years. In particular, Holly Musgrave delivers a performance of such sensitivity and strength as girl next door Patrice, that she elicits roars from the crowd after every song.

This rites of passage musical follows the usual themes: new kid in town; the life or death struggle to be cool; falling in love with the right/wrong girl; true friendship; oh, and some degenerative illness used for comic effect. What sets this apart from the run of the mill fare is the quality and wit of Brown’s songwriting and the choreography which is both inventive and varied, utilising perfectly the small space whilst never compromising on quality.

This show is about finding out who you are and what’s really important and it delivers with a punch – a real gem.

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