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Number 13 lucky for some

A HOST of young actors are appearing in a version of the first Broadway production to star an all-teenage cast as part of this year’s Fringe World Festival. With music and lyrics by musical theatre composer and Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, the aptly-titled 13 is being performed at Playlovers Theatre. It follows Evan who, just shy of becoming a teenager, suddenly has to cope with his parents’ divorce and a move from New York to Indiana. As he prepares for his impending bar mitzvah, Evan has to navigate the complicated social circles of a new school. Lesmurdie resident Asha Vivian, 12, plays Kendra, one of the popular girls. “Everybody idolises her,” she said. “She unfortunately is a little naive and does whatever her best friend Lucy tells her to do which ends up causing problems for Kendra.’’ Singing and dancing from the age of three, Asha has performed in numerous eisteddfods, competitions and shows, scoring numerous awards. She started acting as a nine-year-old and has appeared in many Australian Performing Arts Network productions, as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. “I love performing and with 13 I loved the idea of a whole musical being about kids my age and the issues we face every day,” she said. “The music is amazing, the storyline is fun and I love playing Kendra.” Vincent Ness, 13, of Stoneville plays Simon, regarded as one of the cool ones. “He plays on the same football team and is very loyal to the coolest kid in the show,” he said. “Reaching the higher notes is a challenge, as well as some of the choreography given I haven’t done much dancing in a show before.” Previously appearing in various school productions and shows at Youthfest, the annual state drama festival for young people, Vincent has also appeared in The Sound of Music at the Regal Theatre. “13 appealed to me because I knew people involved in the production, it sounded fun and it’s very age appropriate,” he said. Director Kimberley Shaw, of Bickley, says 13 is a musical about growing up. “In the past few years, I’ve noticed a huge amount of talent among kids this age in Perth and decided I wanted to do a show using this talent,” she said. “The hills region is very well represented in this city based production. “As well as the gorgeous Asha, our music directors Stephen Beerkens and Madeleine Shaw, both aged only 18, are from Maida Vale and Bickley respectively and we have two other hills actors. Stephanie Shaw who is from Bickley and Vincent from Stoneville. “I love 13 and feel it features an age group usually forgotten by producers, who cater for children and young adults, but forget or ignore the age group in between. “Although it features teenagers, it’s a great show that will be enjoyed by young and old alike.” Ms Shaw said the Perth industry was improving all the time but a lyric theatre was needed to encourage longer music theatre runs. “Ultimately I predict that we will lose a significant proportion of these kids to the east or overseas,” she said. “We can only hope that they retain strong links with the west.”

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