INDEPENDENCE — Some Central High School students are channeling their younger selves for “13: The Musical.”

Senior Brody Lutz plays Evan, an almost 13-year-old boy dealing with his parents’ divorce, a move from the big city to a small town, and how to get the cool kids to come to his bar mitvah.

Lutz liked the “idea of doing a show that depicts middle school pretty accurately,” he said.

At that age, the importance of things such as a first kiss or going on a date with someone are over-exaggerated, Lutz said.

There was a lot of back-and-forth in relationships with friends and girls, said Ethan Love, who plays Brett, “the cool kid.”

The characters are all the things middle-schoolers are, said drama director Jeff Witt.

“(The play) presents kids true to life,” Witt said. “It’s not sugar-coated.”

The characters are sometimes mean but also sweet.

“You see all of that in the show,” Witt said.

There is no profanity in the show, but there is “middle-school language and situations,” he said.

Because of that, this production is rated PG, Witt said.

Kalel Mancini’s character Archie is on crutches because of a degenerative muscular disease.

That creates some challenges for the character, but he also sometimes uses his condition to his advantage, Mancini said.

“He doesn’t have many friends,” Mancini said of Archie. “I’m trying to fit in with at least one person, but also am kind of manipulative.”

Because Archie uses crutches, he gets people to do things for him, Mancini said, including getting him a date with a popular girl.

Mancini hopes people who see the show learn something.

“I hope they are more accepting of different people that have not as many friends,” Mancini said. “If they see someone sitting alone at lunch, eat with them.”

CHS performing arts will give a performance for Talmadge Middle School students, said co-director Wendy Boyack. She hopes the students get a chance to interact with the high school actors after the play.

“I’m hoping they’ll see the humor and be able to step back and laugh,” Lutz said.

Boyack said she and Witt chose the play because the script is “super fun,” and the music is upbeat.

“I like the message that it has,” Witt said.

It addresses selling out friends to be popular.

“Be yourself,” Witt said. “You’ll have fun, be liked, loved.”

“It has a message that you can be loved by being you,” Boyack said.

See the show

What: Central High School Performing Arts presents, “13: The Musical”

When: 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday; and 7 p.m. Oct. 23 through 26.

Where: Central High School Auditorium, 1530 Monmouth St., Independence

Tickets: $8, visit chsperformingarts.org

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