13 the Musical-1

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13 The Musical
Reviewed By, Vivian Vaeth
When I walked into the Cooper Middle School Auditorium on Wednesday, May
11 , I was excited. And why was I so thrilled to see the Middle School interpretation of a
former Broadway production? Because I knew some of the talented people up on that
stage, and from previous experience with the musical, knew it like the back of my hand.
Therefore, it made me eager to see how some of the actors and actresses portrayed the
complex emotions of an angsty, confused, and yet musical, teen. And, to be honest, I
wasn‟t disappointed. Sure, a few people slipped up on cues and a few lines here and
there, but once again: I knew the play word for word, and that in itself makes me a bit of
a hard critique. There was only one word to describe the awesomeness of it all:
phenomenal. It was so hilarious, so talent-engrossed, so spot-on brilliant, that I went back
for the second showing. Now, I may be rendered for biasness by saying this, but I in all
truthfulness, I enjoyed the first show more than the second. But before I get strung up and
given the Mussolini treatment by the second cast, hear me out on some key points that
can make or break the musical.
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First of all: The acting. It differed from show to show- some actors were shining
stars, some sadly faded into the shadows. The main issue I noticed with a few of the
actors was that they failed to emote enough. I cannot express how vastly important
emoting on stage is- it‟s one of those attributes that can either knock „em dead or literally
bore them to death. Some of the actors, as talent as they are- which I know for a fact, as I
have seen them in other skits and plays- simply refused to show any form of emotion. It
was killing me watching them: projecting, check. Confident in lines, check. Showing
emotion? Unfortunately no. But that‟s not speaking for the whole cast- many actors and
actresses absolutely shone in their roles; and I mean literally. For instance- JJ Richetti.
This talented seventh grader made his first appearance on the Cooper stage this year, and
I say this with the utmost respect and admiration, completely and utterly nailed it. He
walked on the stage, and I gave a mental groan, thinking, “Please god, not another overexcitable, barely drama-enthused sevvie.” He then proceeded to blow my mind. JJ
electrified the audience in the very first notes of the opening number and ended said
opening with a bang that was similar to Fourth of July fireworks exploding. JJ Richetti,
as well as many other cast members, including Caroline McQuaig, Connor Kianpour,
Brendan Coffee, Natalie Harris, Tyler Cunningham, Kylie Davidson, Megan Hubbell,
John Anderson, and Chessie Paradiso are going places, that‟s for sure.
Secondly: The set. The set was, quite frankly, a little too simple for my taste.
Then again, I‟m the kind of person who can only be impressed by professional Broadway
lighting and scenery with the likeliness of DaVinci‟s artistry. Using a basic Proscenium
stage, the set was pretty much two large platforms, both assembled with two TVs each,

and two periactoids- I apologize for misspelling this- at the back of the stage, each on
wheels for quick set changes. The lighting was just fine, nothing to comment on there,
although it might be helpful to look into some help with the sound. I remember during the
second performance, with Chloe Lorenze as Lucy, there were a lot of issues with the
sound during „It Can‟t Be True‟. Poor Chloe‟s mic was continuously getting feedback
and static during the number- and it was Lucy‟s major diva moment too!- which
interrupted and bashed up the performance quite painfully- both for the audience and
Chloe.
So, let us summarize: this marvelous young adult prodigy of a popular, prospering
Jewish teen being torn apart by divorce and then tossed unceremoniously in Appleton,
Indiana- AKA, Middleofnowhere, Indiana- and then being forced to reinvent himself in
order to get all the cool kids to come to his Bar Mitzvah- which would secure him in the
high in the social status ladder for the rest of time- would get a sparkling 9.5 stars on
Broadway. The storyline, the acting, the singing, fabulous! Off Broadway, in, let‟s say,
your everyday common Middle School, would achieve a solid 8 stars. You want to know
why there‟s a gaping hole of 1.5 between those two scores? Because this musical is
difficult to interpret. Thankfully, Cooper had a fairly impressive shot at it- happy smiling
faces, a nice, well-balanced set, strong leads, and a killer soundtrack.
And so I reach my conclusion. As a parting word to fellow actors, I ask of you,
that before you stand in front of that opening velvet curtain on Broadway- where many of
you rightly belong- ask yourself, “Who is my character?” It‟s all about how you mold
them: Is Lucy a disaffected youth trying to get herself noticed because of neglect earlier
in life? Does Patrice have personal problems that affect her getting along with others? Is
Kendra a ditz or just naïve? Does it bother Brett that he‟s dumb as a rock? Some actors
ask themselves those questions before walking onto that stage and belting out the first
number, while others mirror the professionals and end up on the stage with nothing to
drive their character‟s fire and will. They‟re empty, soulless, and are more likely to pull
out random gestures from nowhere just to have something to do with their hands, as if
it‟ll make their character show more emotion without really doing any work on it. It takes
work to create a strong character, but if you do, I promise it will be a strong performance.
Because we can all see who spent ten or twenty extra minutes reading the script and
really feeling the words. Trust me, we can tell.
Bravo,

Vivian Vaeth

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