Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Book by Dan Elish, Robert Horn as co-librettist.
Thirteen. It’s a number with many negative connotations. Possibly none more negative than being thirteen years old. Puberty, acne, peer pressure, junior high. Good times only compounded for Evan when his parents get divorced and he is moved from the bright lights of New York City to the Dairy Queens of Appleton, Indiana. Perhaps things can get a little better in “The Lamest Place in the World” if he can make some new cool friends at his new school (Dan Quayle Junior High) and get them to his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. But will he lose his new real friends in the process?
It’s the debut production of PaccoArts, and from a hilarious ring tone to a fan blowing cheerleader Kendra’s hair around supermodel style (which later appears on stage as a guy with a leaf blower pestering Kendra), Director Sean Tamburrino had a lot of fun with this one along with Choreographer Allisan Whitman, Assistant Director Allie Trimm who originated the lead role of Patrice on Broadway, and Sean’s cast of teenage triple threats.
That cast is led by “13+1”-year-old Christopher Ruetten as a dynamic and likeable Evan, likeable even when Evan is making disappointing social choices as he strives for popularity. The sweet, genuine and charming Emily Goedken plays his outcast friend Patrice, helping create a very believable, easy (but often strained) friendship with Evan. While twelve-year-old Reed Lievers is a riot as the anti-Tiny Tim – the boy with a terminal illness and knows how to work it. The trio work off each other very naturally.
But that doesn’t stop Evan from wanting to hang with the popular Quayle kids. Tyler Lemire is an amusingly “tongue-whipped” dumb jock Brett with the hots for Kendra, backed up by his humorous friends Malcolm (Joe Stein) and Eddie (Danny Helms) who are a hit in their groovy Hey Kendra. Sophia Linkletter sparkles as the ditzy lead cheerleader cluelessly twirling her blond hair around her fingers as she accepts dubious romantic advice from best friend/secret rival Lucy, with highly talented Alexis Thomson oozing cold, backstabbing cleverness as she makes her own Opportunity to get the boy and adeptly leads the school’s eager It Can’t Be True gossip mill.
The director and his team put together an especially strong ensemble who inhabit their roles every moment, bringing extra bits of energy and humor throughout. Humor and energy increased by Allisan Whitman’s creative choreography from Hey Kendra to Being a Geek to the big opening and closing numbers of each act, completing an impressive opening show for PaccoArts and an especially comfortable Escondido summer night at the nicely updated Kit Carson Park Amphitheater.
Performed July 23 - 31, 2010
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