Middle schoolers star in… 13! The Musical

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Middle schoolers star in… 13! The Musical

13: MD students perform 13! the Musical at the Lower Division, lifting up Matthew Aponte (8).

13: MD students perform 13! the Musical at the Lower Division, lifting up Matthew Aponte (8).

13: MD students perform 13! the Musical at the Lower Division, lifting up Matthew Aponte (8).

13: MD students perform 13! the Musical at the Lower Division, lifting up Matthew Aponte (8).

Julia Robbins

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Laughs follow accidental kisses, singing Rabbis, and love triangle drama in 13! The Musical, this year’s MD production.

The musical focuses on a 13 year old boy named Evan Goldman, played by Matthew Aponte (8), who moves from New York City to the Midwest, Director Benjamin Posner said. “He has to quickly establish himself in the school and find friends to come to his Bar Mitzvah,” Posner said.

Goldman’s parents get divorced and due to the divorce Goldman moves to Appleton, Indiana with his mother, Stage Manager Grace Ermias (10) said.

Posner decided to put on 13! because the message of the story is universal, he said. The musical is a “fish out of water story” that helps show people how to be accountable for their own actions, Posner said.

It is a challenge to learn “how to act with other people around you and develop your character alongside other people’s characters,” Liliana Greyf (8) said. “I learned how to interact with other people in different ways and see their mindsets and the way they think,” she said.

“[13! is] one of my favorite shows, but you can’t do it with high school students because they never want to play anyone younger than themselves, so it has to be with middle school age students,” Posner said.

The actors in the musical play people who are similar ages to them, so it is not “that difficult for them to jump into those characters,” Posner said. “They just have to be brave enough to do that,” he said.

One challenge for Dalia Pustilnik (8) who plays a cheerleader in the chorus has been playing a character that she relates to in real life, she said. The character is the same age as her in real life which has been an odd experience, Pustilnik said.

Catherine Mignone (8) plays a Rabbi in the chorus of the show, and to get into character, she wears a black suit, a prayer shawl, and a yarmulke, she said.

Peter Wang (7) “plays a boy who has a degenerative muscular disease, so he did a lot of research on what the effects of that disease are,” Posner said.

Theater, Dance, and Film Studies Department Chair Alison Kolinski is the choreographer for the show.

“The number that has the most choreography is ‘Opportunity’,” Kolinski said. ‘Opportunity’ features the cheerleaders in the show, which brought back fond memories for Kolinski who was a cheerleader in high school, she said.

‘Opportunity’ is the most exciting scene in the show, Greyf said. Greyf plays one of the cheerleaders and is manipulated by her character’s best friend throughout the entire show, she said.
Emma Jones (12) designed the majority of the set for 13!, Student Technical Director for Stage Crew Maya Dubno (11) said. Dubno helped to create the play’s “cartoon set” that is “a larger than life interpretation of the world,” she said.

The set pieces are colorful and large, and there are some big pieces of scenery that fly onto the stage, Dubno said.

The main part of the set in the show is a large piece that resembles a huge box on wheels with a different scene depicted on each side of the object, Ermias said.

The scenery depicts are middle school lockers, the New York City skyline, a movie theater exit sign, and an Indiana road sign, Ermias said.

Most of the challenges that arose while putting the musical together were related to time management and having only short periods of time to rehearse, Posner said. Middle schoolers cannot get around independently, so rehearsals had to be organized so that parents could get students to and from rehearsal, he said.

To help set the tone for a musical about 13 year olds, Posner collected photographs of teachers and faculty at the age of 13.

“I asked the faculty and staff to send me photos of themselves when they were 13, to play in a slideshow while people are making their way to the seats, and they did,” Posner said.

“As much as it is an academic and a musical experience where you can add on to your abilities as a performer, I think that you also gain a lot of friendships from the musical,” Mignone said.
Mignone, who has not participated in a school show before, was excited to perform in front of an audience for the first time this Friday, she said.