The Academy at Midtown Arts Center Donates to Student with Cancer

Image from 13 the Musical at the Midtown Arts Center

Melissa Pickett

Midtown Arts Center Logo

(FORT COLLINS, CO, April 22, 2018)  Jalyn Courtenay Webb, owner of The Academy at Midtown Arts Center, announced last week that all proceeds from The Academy’s Monday, April 30 performance of 13 the Musical will be donated to the family of Liv Fondy, an Academy student recently diagnosed with leukemia, to help with Fondy’s medical expenses.

Fondy, said Webb, and her brother have been part of The Academy for several years, taking classes and performing in shows.

When Webb, producer of 13 the Musical, and Michael Lasris, 13 the Musical director and choreographer, shared with the show’s cast their idea to donate to the Fondy family, the cast was enthusiastically supportive.

“The Academy feels like a family,” said Sky Hume, a freshman at Fort Collins High School. “Everyone is so close and supports each other.”

The upcoming production of 13 the Musical is the culmination of a semester’s worth of rehearsals for twenty-six local middle and high school students, and three directors. Since rehearsals began in January, the cast has met twice per week, for two hours per rehearsal, learning fourteen songs and pages of lines.

Originally staged on Broadway, 13 the Musical is a coming-of-age story that centers around Evan Goldman, a twelve-year-old boy who lives in Manhattan and is looking forward to his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. The audience follows Evan’s journey as he experiences the highs and lows of life when “you’re just about to turn thirteen”: parents splitting, moving to a new state, navigating new friend circles, pimples, puberty, fights, and first kisses.

Regan Thomas, a sophomore at Rocky Mountain High School who plays Lucy, said, “It’s so relatable – it’s about kids who are going through the same things that we all are. It’s been cool to draw from all of our experiences.”

Added Hume, who plays Patrice, “It’s a lot about how to fit in in middle school, and it’s really relatable to anybody who is a teenager or who has lived through that.”

The characters include the expected group of teen archetypes: the geek, the jock, the mean girl, and everything in between. For Evan, moving from the Big Apple to Appleton, Indiana, is a bit of a culture shock.

“Once Evan moves, he has to adapt to a new environment,” said Zach Pickett, the Kinard Middle School seventh grader who plays Evan. “His first instinct is to try to befriend the ‘popular’ kids, so his Bar Mitzvah is the perfect party. Throughout the show, Evan learns that you don’t have to be popular to have a good life, and true friends are more important than superficial ones.”

“It’s a great show,” said Dylan Lindsey, a Webber Middle School eighth grader who plays Brett. “It has a lot of energy and there’s so many mood changes and shifts, and the plot changes so many times.”

With original music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, and based on the book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, 13 the Musical includes songs such as “Getting Ready”, about getting ready for a first date on which a first kiss is anticipated, “Bad Bad News”, when characters realize someone isn’t a healthy acquaintance, and the final number, “A Little More Homework”, which highlights each character’s personal experience of turning thirteen.

Learning the music of a Broadway show isn’t easy, said Emily Erkman, musical director of 13 the Musical.

“13 has some of the most challenging music I’ve ever seen, especially for this age group,” she said, “but all of these kids have risen to the challenge and are working their tails off. I personally love this show, and find myself laughing out loud at the lines and the fantastic way the kids are digging in to their characters. It’s going to be great!”

Adds Webb, “I am thrilled to be able to bring this kind of education to the Northern Colorado area. I have been involved in children’s education since 1989, and I can’t think of a better set of instructors to work with these kids! I am so grateful to Michael and Emily for all they do for the program, and I am really excited about the amazing growth we have had with the Academy this year.”

The show opens on Saturday, April 28. Tickets for all three performances are available online at midtownartscenter.com/product-category/performance/.

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