SURREY — A musical-comedy production that aims to showcase “some of Vancouver’s most accomplished performers aged 18 and under” includes a Cloverdale-area teen who is relatively new to the world of musical theatre.
Rachel Valentina, who turns 15 in October, commutes daily from her home in Surrey to Vancouver’s Little Flower Academy, where she sings with the senior concert and chamber choirs, and is also involved in something called the “music ministry team.”
Also in Vancouver, she’s part of the ensemble in Bring on Tomorrow Co.’s production of 13: The Musical, to hit the stage at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 and Oct. 4 to 8.
To date, Rachel’s on-stage experience includes being a “Follies Girl” at Little Flower Academy and a part in Vancouver College’s version of Crazy For You, and that’s it.
“I got interested in musical theatre just when I got to high school, in Grade 8,” Rachel told the Now-Leader in a recent phone interview.
Chris Adams, a Surrey-raised co-founder of Bring on Tomorrow and director/co-producer of the company’s 13: The Musical, likes what he hears from Rachel, despite her relative lack of experience on stage.
“I didn’t know her at all before auditions, and it was a pleasant surprise,” Adams said. “Pretty much everybody on the audition panel was blown away by her voice, in particular. She’s a strong singer.… Ten of the 19 kids in the show have worked professionally, and Rachel has not, yet she’s really holding her own with her killer voice.”
The company’s latest musical is a coming-of-age story that follows 12-year-old Evan Goldman, who is abruptly yanked from his New York City life in the aftermath of his parents’ divorce. Transplanted to small-town Indiana, he finds himself navigating the popularity pecking order while planning what he hopes will be an epic Bar Mitzvah attended by all the “cool kids.” Eventually, he finds real friends outside the “it” crowd.
Jason Robert Brown’s 13: The Musical, which debuted in 2008, is deemed the first-ever Broadway show to feature an all-teen cast.
“The show really resonates with teens,” said Adams, who grew up near Bear Creek Park in Surrey and is an Enver Creek Secondary grad of 2006.
“Normally young actors like this play roles as kids in productions, but this show is all about them and their characters’ stories.”
In a bio for the musical, Rachel thanks “all her friends and family who have put up with the many hours of rehearsals, and supported her passion of music and performing arts. She would also like to thank the amazing cast and crew for making this musical experience fantastic.”
In conversation, the Grade 10-er said she’s enjoying her 13 experience.
“It’s a really funny and relatable storyline,” said Rachel, who once attended Cloverdale Catholic School.
“I’m happy with the part I got in this musical, since it’s my first out-of-school musical, but in the future I’d like to get a lead role (in a production),” she added.
“I think right now, (musical theatre) is something I’d want to do on the side, like a hobby, but I’m not sure yet if I’d want to get into this professionally. I know a lot of people in this show want to do it as a career, but I’m not sure yet.”
Singing the wide range of 13: The Musical songs “suits me,” she said, and hitting the stage at the long-established Waterfront Theatre “is kind of scary but I’m kind of excited, too, because it’s something new I haven’t experienced yet.”
The show’s lead cast includes Graham Verchere (as Evan), Julia McLean (Patrice), Jason Sakaki (Brett), Kyra Leroux (Kendra), Michelle Creber (Lucy) and Julian Lokash (Archie).
The new Bring on Tomorrow company, co-founded by Adams with Lalainia Lindbjerg, Melanie Thompson and Monique Creber, debuted in 2016 with a production of Fame that earned an Ovation Award for its run at Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver.
For tickets and more details about 13: The Musical, visit bringontomorrowco.com.