Rita Carpenter reviews 13, at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury...

Senior members of the Risborough Youth Theatre presented a stunning performance of this little-known musical last weekend.

It tells the story of a Jewish boy in America reaching 13 and facing his bar mitzvah. His parents have divorced, he is moved by his mother to another state and a new school and he has to face all the trials of growing up and finding his place in his new environment.

It was superbly directed by Chloe Edwards, who was also responsible for the very clever choreography, which suited the action and also took into account the minimal size of the stage.

I had not seen this show before but with clever lyrics and music by Jason Robert Brown it depicted all the anguish felt by both boys and girls on reaching 13.

Mike Grimwood was superb in the role of Evan with his brother Chris Grimwood brilliantly playing Archie the handicapped boy on crutches. Becky Nix was impressive as Patrice – all three outsiders in their own way.

Amelia Mitchell portrayed Lucy, the mean cheerleader, to perfection and Emma Torrance was delightful as Kendra, the girl all the boys fancied. Brett, Malcolm and Eddie the jocks were remarkable and played respectively by Joe Langford, Matthew Sculfor and James Thorpe.

The singing was outstanding with some very melodious harmonies and the live band, impressively led by musical director Lucy Webster, comprised, Rob Grimwood, father to two talented performers, on keys one, Bryn Powell keys two, James Herdman guitar one, Briony Basterfield guitar two, Richard Galley bass and Dan Penaliggon drums who all enhanced the performance.

All the cast came up trumps and gave their all. This was a truly magnificent show and one of the best I have seen in a long time. This group are certainly worthy of recognition, do look out for future productions by Risborough Youth Theatre. If this musical is anything to go by you will not be disappointed.

This was youth theatre at its best.

By Rita Carpenter