Local youth perform in ‘13 the Musical’

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Elizabeth Winstead, owner of The Singers Studio in Wilson, admits that bringing “13 the Musical” to the Wilson stage wasn’t entirely her idea.

“Some of my students said, ‘You’ve got to listen to this,’ and I loved the music and watched the video,” Winstead said. “The kids encouraged me to do ‘13’ because they wanted to perform it.”

The musical will be presented on the stage in the Kennedy Family Theatre on the Barton College campus from July 12 to 14 at 7:30 p.m. and July 15 at 3 p.m. Winstead serves as the producer, and Hannah Slaughter is directing. Courtney Perez, a recent Barton theater graduate, is the choreographer.

“13 the Musical” is about a teenager who moves from New York City to a small town in Indiana. Dealing with his parents’ divorce and wanting to fit in with his new school’s popular students, young Evan Goldman, played by Alex Guyton-Lange, attempts to navigate the tricky world of teen life in a new environment.

“The title of the musical refers to the age of the students while going to middle school, their early teen angst, their middle school environment and small town living,” Winstead said. “He (Evan) is trying to fit in; he meets the girl next door, but then wants to be in the popular group.

“It’s a very, very funny show and real edgy,” Winstead continued. “There is little bit of mature language, kissing scenes, and some kids get into a fight. We recommend that our audience be 9 or 10 years old and older.”

Winstead said they are sensitive to the material but were not about to change its content.

“We don’t compromise the material and are performing it as written,” Winstead said. “We refuse to sanitize it because it was written that way for a reason. The cast’s parents are OK with it, and the students are OK with it.”

Music is the big draw for audiences to this show, Winstead said.

“The music is probably the most interesting and cool thing about this play,” Winstead said. “It was written by very popular young composer, Jason Robert Brown, and has a pop music vibe. We have a band in place that will be playing everything live.”

Rita Bennett is serving as musical director for the show.

The cast consists of 26 local middle and high school students.

“Not everyone who auditioned was cast because some kids looked too old,” Winstead said. “This show is about a very specific age group, and it gets kind of creepy if it goes outside that age range. We had to be very sensitive about that.”

Winstead said that Adam Twiss, director of Barton’s theater program, was involved with casting for “South Pacific” at the same time “13 the Musical” was holding auditions. Twiss is producer for that show.

“If a person auditioned for ‘13’ and was too old for a part but a great talent, I sent them to Adam to audition for ‘South Pacific,’” Winstead said. “Adam has been an incredibly huge help and wants to see interesting and edgy things performed there (Barton). He and I envision producing a summer theater festival at some point.”

Winstead wants to serve not only as a voice teacher, but also as a mentor for young talent.

“I want to give them opportunities and highlight their work,” Winstead said. “I wanted to give this show a fresher look which is why Hannah is director and Courtney is in charge of choreography.”

Tickets for “13 the Musical” are $10 for adults and $8 for students and can be purchased by calling the Singers Studio at 252-230-0691. Tickets are also available from cast members or can be purchased at the door at performance time.

Title roles include Evan, Alex Lange; Patrice, Hannah McLaughlin; Brett, Brian Phat; Malcolm, Jah’mez Moore; Eddie, J.B. Yankosky; Kendra, Izzy Twiss; Archie, Jake Yankosky; Lucy, Alyson Giddens; Cassie, Alyssa Wagoner; Charlotte, Samantha Phat; Molly, Zy’Miracle Kearney; Richie and Rabi, Luke Parrish; and Simon, Hunter Pierce.

Cheerleaders are Izzy Twiss, Alyson Giddens, Alyssa Wagoner, Samantha Phat, Zy’Miracle Kearney, Jaden Rogers, Ashley Beaman and Lizzie Daniels.

The ensemble includes Dylan Skinner, Jaden Rogers, Millie Lynch, Damien Tomczyk, Derrick Pitt, Cassidy Kyles, Ashley Beaman, Kendra Carroll, Kaitlyn Spruill, Lindsey Vaughan, Lizzie Daniels, Ana Villalobos, Ava West and Caitlin Hill.

Ballet dancers are Izzy Twiss, Ashley Beaman, Caitlin Hill, Lizzie Daniels, Kendra Carroll and Alyssa Wagoner.

Stage manager is Claire Jenkins. Assistant manager is Isabelle Johnson. Gerard Lange is in charge of costumes and props.