You know a show has knocked it out of the park when its audience is not only wildly cheering at the end of songs, but mid-song and scene as well. This overwhelming praise was both cathartic and contagious—if you’ll excuse the word choice—as the crowd relished in hearing live voices and watching dance-breaks for the first time since COVID-19 hit the Central Coast.
Jopuka Productions’ revival of “13 The Musical” is bold, fresh and exciting, a warm welcome back to the world of modern musical theatre. The production’s quality is a testament to Joshua Maxwell’s strong direction, against all restrictions and setbacks. Out of the three sets of interchanging casts, I was fortunate enough to see the Manhattan cast (a.k.a. the over 18’s). The entire ensemble was bursting with raw energy and talent, each of them hilariously capturing the angsty teen spirit. Even when a false alarm threatened to take the show off-course, the cast and crew pulled it back together with professionalism. Zachariah Partridge nailed the awkwardness of new kid Evan Goldman, who struggles with his rocky transition into adolescence, and Declan Gray was a total scene-stealer as the sarcastic “boy with a terminal illness” Archie. It was astounding to discover that the two male leads are newcomers to the stage, as they were both comfortable and confident in their roles. Krystalle Williamson completes the trio as outsider Patrice, whose nuanced performance was equal to her beautiful singing voice.
Jopuka’s production team also deserves high commendation for their spectacular lighting design and effective minimalistic set. Musical director Quinn Carter and vocal coach Jayne Johnston have done an amazing job shaping the songs’ gorgeous harmonies and Marlee Carter’s choreography was delightfully fun. “13 The Musical” runs at the newly established Red Tree Theatre until February 19th . So if you’re planning a long overdue night out, do not miss this fantastic show.