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For these singing and dancing kids, life begins at `13'

January 07, 2007|Iris Schneider

AS the all-kid cast prepared for last month's opening of "13," a new musical that follows the attempts of a newcomer to get the "cool kids" to come to his bar mitzvah, there were lots of expectations.

"To say I was excited would be an understatement," said Ricky Ashley, 17, who flew out from New York to join the 13-member cast of the play, written by Jason Robert Brown and directed by Todd Graff, at the Mark Taper Forum. "I love high-pressure situations. I thrive on them," he continued, alluding to the two-month rehearsal period. The kids spent entire days together, going to school at the rehearsal studio in the morning and rehearsing in the afternoons.

Graff described his actors as "bright, enthusiastic, talented and exhausting." "Even when things are running smoothly, " he said, "which is most of the time, the kids bring chaos with them everywhere they go."

But it was a productive chaos.

"The cast is feeling more and more like family," said Sara Niemietz, 14, of Santa Clarita, who, like most of the kids, is a theater veteran. "It has been a lot of work, but it's all been worth it. It was electrifying to be on the stage in front of people."

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Iris Schneider

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`13'

Where: Mark Taper Forum,

135 N. Grand Ave.

When: Through Feb. 18

Price: $20 to $65

Contact: (213) 628-2772 or centertheatregroup.org

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