'13 The Musical' at Seven Angels - My Review

Area teens get to shine in this joyous production in Waterbury.

Members of the cast of '13 The Musical' at Seven Angels Photo by Paul Roth for Seven Angels
Members of the cast of '13 The Musical' at Seven Angels Photo by Paul Roth for Seven Angels
Seven Angels Theatre bills their current production of 13 The Musical as a Stage II Community Collaborative and Semina De Laurentis mentioned that it is the 22nd youth production that it has presented on its stage. While the local actors may be young and not the usual professionals that we see at Seven Angels, everything about this production was very professional. The Artistic Director herself told the audience before the show that the talent she saw on opening night "blew me away." High praise from this talented actress/director.
13 is a great upbeat musical for young adults with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. The show was commissioned by Center Theater Group in Los Angeles and subsequently produced for Goodspeed Opera House by the soon-to-retire Michael Price. It is described as "a grown up show about growing up" and contains some lines that are probably not appropriate for young children. It also has some really funny lines that are delivered perfectly by the members of this cast.

I liked seeing this piece produced on the smaller stage of Seven Angels; it lent an off-Broadway feel to the show, which was presented without intermission. Strong lighting by Dylan Dineen did not go unnoticed and the small band of four led by John Sebastian DeNicola rocked. Director Sonya Stemmer directed these teens with joy and Choreographer Sarah Scovill had them dancing their best.

The students were from many area towns, with an especially strong showing from Southington, and many were making their Seven Angels debut. There was the obligatory higher number of girls, and they were all naturals. The 17 member ensemble included Allison VanDerlyn, Marina Kolitsas, and Marley Thompson. When the entire cast was onstage, they sounded (and looked) excellent. I loved the production number of the title song and "A Little More Homework."

Middlebury's Carey Cannata of course was outstanding in the lead role of Evan Goldman. A sophomore at The Taft School, this young man has already been in two other productions of 13 and he has the excellent voice and stage presence to knock it out of the park. Newtown's Philip Coffey played the role of  Archie at the Sharon TriArts production, but here took on the semi-bully role of Brett. Naugatuck High School junior Michael Newman played two roles, Malcolm and Richie, and his Chamber Singer voice served him well in both roles. When he and Tim Perry (a bundle of talent who played the character Eddie) became backup singers for Brett, they made a statement.

Rachel Dufresne (granddaughter of the inimitable Rick Dufresne) did a great job in her first Seven Angels show as the much-admired Kendra. Her supposed best friend was played to the hilt by Zoe Hochberg from Fairfield. Alex Niatopsky helped out the boys as Simon. Three young ladies that took on the roles of cheerleaders were Laura Contento, Rachel Huff and the shining Lauren Stango.
I was impressed with how well Autumn Sheffy performed in her second time in the role of Patrice. A junior at Southington High School, this young lady has a powerful voice and strong comic timing. She thanks the director for putting her heart into the show, and this actress clearly did the same. Equally impressive was Michael Ricciardone, also at Southington high, in the demanding role of the handicapped Archie. He brought a strong singing voice and a real charm to the role. Both of these young performers are names to remember.

Kudos to Seven Angels for producing their annual youth production and giving so many teens, our upcoming stars, a chance to shine. Fascia's Chocolates produced a special 13 confection for this show and proceeds from the sale will benefit the youth theater. This production continues next Friday and Saturday 7:30 PM with a matinee on Sunday, January 11 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $27 and $22 for season subscribers, with discounts offered for students.

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