AUBURN — They’re going to be all right. They’re 13, a terrifying age, but they have boundless optimism and courage to help them chart a precarious course between geek and cool. In a nutshell, that’s the plot of “13: the Musical” which is staged this week by Community Little Theatre with a blockbuster cast of young actors.

Without a doubt, this show will ring true with every adult or teen in its audience. The all-youth cast captures the exhilaration and often hilarious awkwardness of adolescence. More importantly, this show digs deep beneath the all-too-easy caricature of kids, exposing their fears and underscoring their emerging social identity.

That’s a tall order for a tuneful, dance-filled romp with a couple of dozen middle-schoolers, but director Richard Martin has succeeded in bringing a lot of new faces into the spotlight for a stand-up-and-cheer production.

Scott Venable, a Lewiston High School freshman who already has an extensive stage background, excels in the lead role of Evan Goodman. He has outstanding dramatic and musical skills that are showcased in several solo and ensemble numbers.

Kaitlyn Prophett, an eighth-grader at Brunswick Junior High School, plays Patrice, the next-door not-so-popular girl who guides Evan in his transition from New York City to Dan Quayle Middle School in a small Indiana town.

Oliver Hall, who celebrated his 13th birthday during rehearsals for this show, delivers a superb portrayal of Archie, who has a degenerative neuromuscular disorder and walks with crutches. He delivers a powerful message of life for a teen who’s always on the outside looking in, but the role also provides some hilarious humor. Hall is a seventh-grader at Auburn Middle School.

This trio of ‘tweens support each other through the turmoil of pursuing popularity. Other cast members who deliver excellent supporting performances include Eric Yim (Lisbon High School sophomore) as Brett, a popular football player with some bullying tendencies; Sabrina Fisher (seventh-grader at Oak Hill Middle School, Sabattus) as Kendra, Brett’s girl and object of Archie’s unlikely ambition; and Jillian Conant (first time on the CLT stage) who plays Lucy, Kendra’s dubious girlfriend.

Very good comic relief is provided by Gavin and Connor Crawford, brothers who are Brett’s ever-present sidekicks.

“13: the Musical” has great music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, whose score for “Bridges of Madison County” won a Tony award a few days ago.

Among the musical highlights of “13” are “Being a Geek” and “Invitations” by Evan; “What It Means To Be a Friend” and “Good Enough” by Patrice, and “Tell Her” by Evan and Patrice, a clever duet that reveals their feelings for each other while seeming to coach Brett through his problems with Kendra.

“Get Me What I Need” is a memorable number by Archie and the ensemble, and the whole popularity dilemma reaches a satisfying conclusion in “If That’s What It Takes” by Archie, Patrice and Evan.

Choreography is by Vincent Ratsavong. He sets the bar high for this troupe of young people, and they deliver some exuberant dances.

Martin’s direction is also is based on high expectations, and the cast comes through with flying colors.

Musical direction is by Paul G. Caron.

The CLT team did an imaginative job on set design and construction that includes a movie theater and the school corridor.

“13: the Musical” should not be mistaken for a show aimed at kids. There is some language that might be uncomfortable for some in the audience, but it’s true-to-life for anyone who remembers the age of 13 or overhears 13-year-olds today.

Remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, June 12-14, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 15. The show is staged at Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn. For tickets call 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com.


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