A NoHo Arts theatre review of “13.” Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, directed by Barry Pearl, produced by Panic Productions and BarCinBoo, with music director Lloyd Cooper and choreographer Michelle Elkin, running through September 18 at The Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.
Of all the awkward ages in our life, and there are many that I can remember, 13 has to be the worst. Bodies rapidly changing, emotions exploding, and everyone around you at entirely different stages of development, even at the exact same age. Tall, short, spotty, angelic, hairy, baby smooth, voices breaking and expectations rising exponentially. This is where we find ourselves, turning 13 in the middle of this brilliant and beautiful story.
Evan Goldman is a New York City boy, weeks away from his Bar Mitzvah. At the worst possible moment in his life, his parents’ divorce and his mother abruptly moves them both to a tiny town in Indiana with one school, one movie theatre and miles and miles of corn fields. It’s quite an adjustment for anyone, but for a Jewish boy used to being surrounded by his culture and his friends and family days before he turns 13, it is especially hard. A Bar Mitzvah marks the transition from a boy to a man and this boy makes many many mistakes before his big day trying to fit in, make friends and make sure everyone comes to the most important moment of his young life.
Of course, everything goes wrong and he gets pulled into the worst kind of middle school dramas, feuds and the furious trivialities of living in the middle of nowhere. But he also meets a girl, makes true friends and finds his way through it all fairly unscathed and all this gives the story the perfect excuse for tons of truly wonderful songs and dance routines and excellent characters played by this really phenomenal cast.
You might not be familiar with Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, I know I wasn’t, but it’s a wonderful traditionally built theatre with great atmosphere and state-of-the-art production. When you have this many kids singing and dancing all at once, a terrific live band and seriously fast scene changes, you need a theatre like this to make it all possible. The production is wonderful. The set is cleverly mobile and perfect for this show. The kids are magical and there are absolutely no adults allowed, thank heavens!
Funny, memorable performances from crazy talented actors singers and dancers with imaginative and very clever choreography and direction.
The audience was laughing and clapping and highly entertained. There just wasn’t a dull moment or a weak link in this show. It honestly made my face ache I was smiling so much. And boy don’t we all need that kind of evening right now! It was definitely worth the drive from our Valley to Simi Valley I can tell you!!
I cannot recommend “13” enough. The production team is multi award winning and brings decades of talent to support the wonderful cast. Take a drive over the ‘other’ hill and go see this brilliant show, you’ll thank me, I promise!!!
Alexa Margolis as Ryder, Anna Cardino as Charlotte, Brennan Lewis (Simon), Calista Loter as Lucy/Cindy, Callula Sawyer as Kristina/Dance Captain, Emerson Julian as Kendra/Sarah, Ethan Daugherty as Evan, Harrington Gwin as Ben, Jake McDermott as Malcolm, Kirsten Adler as Molly, Lucas Panczel as Brett, Lucy Bollier as Cassie, Maddie Ragsdale as Lucy/Cindy, Marissa Margolis as Patrice/Gracie, Mia Akima Brown as Patrice/Gracie, Peter Umipig as Archie, Oliver Stellan as Eddie, Olivia Zenetzis as Kendra/Sarah, Sophie Gray as Rosie and Weston Walker-Pardee as Richie.
Rock Score Composer Jason Robert Brown
Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn
Directed by Barry Pearl
Musical Direction by Lloyd Cooper
Choreographed by. Michelle Elkin
Set Design by Rei Yamamoto
Lighting Design by Ian Kelley
Stage Managed by Megan Brister
Musicians Include: Steve Clift (Bass), Jeff Gibson (2nd Keyboard), Satoshi Kirisawa (Percussion), and Ryan Detlefsen (Guitar)
Graphic Design by Paige Loter (also Scenic Design Assistant)
Publicity by Sandra Kuker PR
Produced by Panic! Productions, Born To Perform Studio and BarCinBoo Productions
Runs through Sunday, September 18
3050 E Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley, CA 93065