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“13: The Musical” at Stuart W. Cramer High School

blumey student critics
T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
Hannah Epstein

You may not remember what it was like to become a teenager, but “13: The Musical” will surely remind you.

Little Theater of Gastonia first performed this show in Gaston County, using many of the performers seen at Stuart Cramer High: Carter Frady, Ashlyn Glass, Jacob Dyksterhouse and Jalon Watson, who were amazing in this show.

They sent the audience down memory lane, reliving early adolescence from bodily changes to experimenting with “the tongue.”

Welcome to Appleton, Ind., where young Jewish boy Evan Goldman (Frady) is the new kid on the block, trying to figure out where he belongs in time for his bar mitzvah. Should he hang out with the jocks, led by Brett Sampson (Dyksterhouse), or his neighbor Patrice (Glass) and her disabled friend Archie (Watson)? Evan’s situation is relatable to anyone who has struggled with friendships.

Other unique characters include Lucy (Bailey Patterson), the melodramatic girl with her mind set on dating Brett, and Kendra (Baylee Pinkelton), Lucy’s sidekick and the ditzy head cheerleader. These two embody “white girls with first world problems”; while Patterson attacked her role with voice and body language, the talented Pinkleton didn’t quite fit her character.

The 2012 production of “13” at Little Theatre featured the choreography of Gina Thornburg, which seemed to carry over into Leanna Cook’s intense and complex movements at Stuart Cramer (except for the cheerleading number “Opportunity”). Even so, Cook energized the actors.

The highlight of the show began in the Dairy Queen, when Evan finally realizes he belongs with Patrice and Archie. “If That’s What It Is,” featuring an adorable kiss between Frady and Glass, followed by “A Little More Homework” made me want to jump up from my seat and begin singing along.

The cast closed the show with the powerful number, leaving the audience pondering and (in some cases) weeping. “13” is a powerful musical that chronicles a boy trying to become a man and discovering his Jewish identity, and it leaves you humming all the way home.

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