‘13’ musical full of plucky numbers

Placer performers take on puberty and peer-pressure
By: Paul Cambra Journal staff writer
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Acne, algebra and angst. Oh, to be 13 again. If you had enough of puberty the first time around and would prefer to sit back and watch someone else deal with the drama of junior high school, then the kids from Placer High have a show for you. “13,” the musical about a boy from New York City who moves to Indiana on the eve of his Bar Mitzvah, opens a 13-show run beginning tonight in the Placer High School auditorium in Auburn. While some audience members may reminisce about an era long past, for those on stage it’s still pretty fresh in their heads. “They’ve just lived through 13 and deal with some of the same issues in high school,” said director Josh Brown, who points out a whole new challenge. “In every other production the kids always play adults. Here, they have to play someone younger,” Brown said. Fortunately, the students at Dan Quayle Junior High School in Appleton, Ind. are your typical typecast teenagers. The jock, the cheerleader, the jealous best friend, the handicapped kid, the social outcast and, of course, the new kid. The actors just have to remember to reel it back a few years. “You’re too confident,” Brown tells them during one rehearsal. “Remember, you’re 13. You have to come across as awkward.” Senior Conrad Harder, 18, plays Brett, the school’s football hero — and bully. “I wasn’t too confident when I was 13 years old,” Harder said. “But I’ve seen enough TV and movies to know what it takes to play a jerk. Plus, I played the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.” Evan Goldman, the new kid, has to decide whether to be kind or to be cool, and in the process learns a lot about friendship. “There’s some good lessons in the play, especially for kids,” said freshman Chaileen Smith, 15, who plays Kendra the cheerleader. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Archie, the wise-beyond-his-years disabled teen. “Because of his physical handicap, he’s more adult than the others, more cynical,” said senior Connor Coleman, 17. Cynical, perhaps. But despondent? No way. “Am I up for it?” says Archie at one point during the show. “With a Ritalin and a Red Bull I’m up for anything.” So go the trials of the 21st century teenager. And while Appleton, Ind. might be a backwater burg when compared to New York’s Upper West Side, it may feel right at home for the 33 kids in the local production. “Auburn is a lot like Appleton,” Coleman said. “But less music and dancing.” ----------------------------- 13 the musical When: 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday through April 24; 2:15 matinees Saturday, April 17 and 24 Where: Placer High School auditorium, Auburn Cost: $12 general, $8 students, seniors and children Discount if tickets are ordered online. Telephone: (530) 745-5805 Web site: