JRB’s new musical comes to Melbourne

13 A New Musical“No, you’re not ready! No, it’s not time yet! No, it’s not right now! Wait until you’re older!” – 13 A New Musical 

It’s not easy being a teenager – we all know it, we’ve all been there. This month, 42 of Melbourne’s most talented teenagers hit the stage in Jason Robert Brown’s new musical 13! to have their say about growing up.

Opening on December 14 at South Yarra’s Randall Theatre, 13 A New Musical brings 100 song-filled minutes to the stage.

David Venn, from production company Stagemasters spoke with AussieTheatre.com about the show and its importance for budding young performers.

“Very few shows are written for young people”, Venn told AussieTheatre.com, “But 13 – A New Musical allows kids to be kids. The young cast can base their characters on real life experiences and their natural energy in a contagious asset to the story. There is also an incredibly captivating innocence when kids are allowed to play kids – I believe this is a key ingredient that makes 13 – A New Musical so engaging.”

Venn believes that Melbourne’s youth talent pool is one of the most outstanding in the country. Stagemasters are presenting this season not just for the sheer entertainment value (which, by all accounts, is going to be wonderful) but also to provide a supportive environment where young performers could work with like minded peers to further develop their skills. The 42-strong cast hail from across the state of Victoria, with some cast members travelling up to 2 hours on public transport to attend rehearsals each week.

13 A New MusicalRanging from age 10-17, the talented cast are tackling Jason Robert Brown’s complex and modern music with enthusiasm, proving that this mature piece of theatre is no ‘kids’ show.

“Being 13 is a complicated time, and Jason Robert Brown’s Sondheim-like ability to convey the subtlest emotions is impressively displayed as each character goes through the dramas of being 13. The catchy pop/rock score resonates the energy of being a teenager and makes it extremely hard not to hum along”, he said.

“13 – A New Musical is a grown up story about growing up. It is about the lessons we learn throughout life and the discovery that who you want to be starts with discovering who you are.”

At such young ages, many of the young performers involved with this production have professional experience in the industry already. Among the cast members are Brianna Bishop – Australia’s Got Talent finalist, Mark Balas who played Michael Banks in Mary Poppins and Frank Dixon who performed alongside Sir Ian McKellan in Waiting For Godot.

Other cast members have performed in Billy Elliot, have secured recording deals in LA, and have worked in countless film and television projects.

The more experienced youngsters have become what Venn describes as “fantastic role models for the rest of group”, displaying an incredible level of professionalism in the rehearsal space.

Over 350 hopefuls auditioned for this production across the state of Victoria, and Venn was quick to mention that casting decisions were extremely difficult.

“We ran a state wide talent search between July and October, and met an amazing array of talented singers, dancers and actors from around Victoria. The professional standard and quality of auditions was outstanding – such a credit to the performing training available for young people in Victoria.”

13 A New Musical is selling out fast, and with only 7 performances (from December 14-18), audiences should get their skates on!

Tickets are from $29.00 Book now at Ticketmaster.com.au or call 136 100

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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