Home Voorhees News A coming-of-age journey

A coming-of-age journey

VMS Drama Club production of '13 the Musical' is not an easy one

Voorhees Middle School students attend a rehearsal for the show’s weekend of performances.

Gabrielle Horvitz is preparing the Voorhees Middle School Drama Club to mount its production of “13 the Musical,” and the task is not an easy one.

As club director and also advisor to the Voorhees Art Commission, Horvitz acknowledges the challenges she has faced with the show, which begins Friday, March 8.

“13 the Musical is not a junior show,” she explained. “It’s a full show, with a challenging vocal score as well as choreography. We have been working hard at rehearsal to learn all the steps – and even harmony.”

Horvitz – part of the school’s drama program for 15 years – describes the musical as a coming-of-age tale for middle-schoolers based on a book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn.

“It revolves around a 13-year-old, Evan, who deals with his new school as he navigates the complexities of being a teenager, including issues like peer pressure, popularity, and self-discovery,” Horvitz noted. “Audiences can expect youthful energy, contemporary music, coming-of-age themes, humor, diverse characters, and positive messages from “13 the Musical.”

The team behind the show are co-director Alexandra Keith, production manager Tara Johnson; choreographers Jennifer Morris Grasso, Wendy Farquhar, and Dante Brattelli; costume designer Rachel Lewis; technical director; Melissa Magil; and scenic designer Mike Morgan.

Weekly and Saturday rehearsals for “13 the Musical” began in September, and Horvitz and her team have focused on individualized coaching of the students. Horvitz believes that participation in school theatrics can benefit students academically, socially and emotionally, teaching them to be independent thinkers and develop leadership skills.

Among the student players is eighth grader Luke Spegel, who portrays the show’s main character and shared his thoughts on the musical.

“I think everyone should come see ’13’ because it is relatable,” he said. “Everyone has been in a situation where they were the new kid, and everyone has felt pressure to impress their peers. You will find fun in Evan’s journey to discovering himself through the songs, dancing, and acting in our show.”

As advisor to the Voorhees Art Commission, Horvitz has also seen the broader impact of arts events on the local community, including cultural enrichment, community engagement and educational value.

“They are learning the skills for the stage that they can implement into their day to day and for the rest of their lives in a safe, nurturing environment around lessons and themes in these different shows,” she observed.

Students Caitlyn Ketover and Caroline Stern see “13 the Musical” as a unique window into middle-school life.

“I’m honored to be a part of this production with so many talented kids,” said Ketover, who plays Lucy. “This is a unique year for drama club because the show is centered around characters that children my age can relate to.”

“Patrice is such a fun character to portray and she has a lot more to her than the eye can see,” Stern observed of her character. “She’s creative, and unique and doesn’t follow the crowd. I can personally relate to her by our shared desire to have confidence in who we are.”

“13 the Musical” will be performed Friday through Sunday beginning March 8 at the Raymond J. Brosel Jr. Performing Arts Center at VMS. For ticket information, visit http://voorheesms.booktix.com/

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