Much to like in As You Like It 13:

THEATRE

The Georgia Straight - - Arts -

13: THE MU­SI­CAL

Mu­sic and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. Di­rected by Chris Adams. A pre­sen­ta­tion of Bring on To­mor­row Co., in as­so­ci­a­tion with Mov­ing Mir­rors Pro­duc­tions and Cre­ber Mu­sic Corp. At the Wa­ter­front Theatre on Sun­day, October 1. Con­tin­ues un­til October 8

Mean girls, jocks, freaks, and 2

geeks—the strug­gles of ado­les­cence al­ways seem to come with these fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters. Bring on To­mor­row Co.’s pro­duc­tion of The Mu­si­cal in­tro­duces us to a new gen­er­a­tion of these archetypes in a story about the teenage fight for so­cial ac­cep­tance and the true mean­ing of friend­ship. It’s also the per­fect ve­hi­cle to show­case an im­pres­sive ar­ray of lo­cal teenage tal­ents who in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively de­liver out­stand­ing per­for­mances.

The cast fea­tures 19 kids, many of whom have ap­peared in Arts Club Theatre pro­duc­tions as well as in film and TV shows. Lead­ing the pack is Gra­ham Verchere as 12-year-old New Yorker Evan Gold­man, on the verge of turn­ing 13 and hav­ing his bar mitz­vah. Evan’s life is turned up­side down when his par­ents’ di­vorce moves him to Ap­ple­ton, In­di­ana. Evan be­comes fix­ated on one goal: to get in with the pop­u­lar kids and have them come to his all-im­por­tant event.

Verchere has a down-to-earth, lik­able qual­ity in his por­trayal of Evan, mak­ing it easy for us to root for his char­ac­ter as he forges through the bat­tle­ground known as ju­nior high. Ju­lia Ma­clean is phe­nom­e­nal as so­cial out­cast Pa­trice, equipped with a uniquely glo­ri­ous voice. Whether she’s stricken with ex­cite­ment when meet­ing Evan in “The Lamest Place in the World”, or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing heart­break in “What It Means to Be a Friend”, Ma­clean’s voice ex­presses ev­ery ounce of emo­tion her char­ac­ter feels with an in­sight­ful ma­tu­rity that goes well be­yond her 15 years.

Ju­lian Lokash is a de­light to watch as the dis­abled Archie, who uses his hand­i­cap to guilt Evan into set­ting him up on a date with the pop­u­lar Ken­dra. Lokash’s pow­er­ful voice, comedic tim­ing, and larger-thanlife per­son­al­ity are high­lighted by the show­stop­ping “Get Me What I Need”. As the back­stab­bing mean girl Lucy, Michelle Cre­ber is mag­nif­i­cently evil. Play­ing a cheer­leader with claws un­der­neath her pom­poms, Cre­ber un­leashes her sen­sa­tional voice in songs such as “It Can’t Be True”, where she at­tempts to de­stroy Ken­dra’s so­cial stand­ing in a mat­ter of min­utes.

Ni­col Spinola’s cre­ative chore­og­ra­phy takes us into the world and heads of the teens, bring­ing to life the cheer­lead­ing field in “Op­por­tu­nity”, go­ing in­side the hor­monal teenage mind in the boy-band-in­spired “Hey Ken­dra”, and fea­tur­ing boys pop­ping out of lock­ers for the imag­i­na­tive “Bad Bad News”.

Bring on To­mor­row’s The Mu­si­cal is a thrilling op­por­tu­nity to watch a cast of stel­lar young triplethreat per­form­ers shine in full force. While there’s noth­ing re­ally in­no­va­tive about the story, it’s ex­cit­ing to watch fresh in­ter­pre­ta­tions of ageold teenage archetypes, and to see these ris­ing stars in ac­tion be­fore they take off.

> VINCE KANASOOT

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