13 ★★★★ Cadogan Hall | August 31, 2021


For its exuberant production of Jason Robert Brown's musical 13, The British Theatre Academy fills the large stage of Cadogan Hall with around eighty young singers, dancers and musicians. The show is extremely age specific and centres on a twelve-year-old boy's quest to get his new school mates to attend his imminent Bar Mitzvah. Whilst obviously young, few of the principal cast appear to be twelve or thirteen. This actually improves the audience's experience as more mature voices suit the songs better and these young performers have terrific voices. The show itself feels like it is actually dealing with an older age group, and with its treatment of a disabled boy, a seemingly unattractive girl, and the class jock's relentless search for pubescent sex it often borders on bad taste. Luckily, Dean Johnson directs with a suitable lightness of touch and elicits excellent performances and plenty of humour from the situations. His work is supported by Corin Miller's jaunty choreography which manages to disguise the cast's lack of dance technique by sheer weight of numbers. The pom-pom wielding chorus of cheerleaders is a great hit with the audience. In the main role of Evan, we are lucky to have Edward Flynn-Haddon. Charming and geeky, he performs and sings exceptionally well. Among a long list of named characters, Ivy Pratt, Samuel Menhinick, Rebecca Nardin and Ethan Quinn shine. Jason Robert Brown's musical writing style isn't always easy and can be harmonically somewhat unconventional – this cast serve his score exceptionally well. There is definitely nothing unlucky here about the number 13.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Eliza Wilmot.

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