Gianni Palmarini Takes the Lead in Media Theatre's '13', Beginning Tonight
Media Theatre New School student Gianni Palmarini is one of the main reasons for "13: The Musical" appearing on The Media Theatre stage today, May 30-June 8. This is due to his involvement with the production when it was produced earlier this year by the Wilmington Drama League.
The Jason Robert Brown musical captured Gianni's attention when he heard about auditions for "13" taking place at the Wilmington, Delaware theatre company. The score was enticing, and the story chronicling the lives of middle school students facing the difficulties that come with friendships, divorce, health challenges and young love was irresistible. He is, like the characters in the musical, 13 years old and is facing the realities of being a teen.
"The musical brilliantly narrates the life of a normal 13 year old who is going through some of the same challenges real teens are going through," explains Palmarini. "It reminds us that you are going to fail, and you just have to pick yourself back up and take another go at it. Even when you think you are finished trying, there is always something more you can do."
The unique arrangement of bringing the Wilmington Drama League's production to The Media Theatre was born after Jesse Cline, Media Theatre's Artistic Director, attended a performance in Wilmington to support Palmarini. The young singer, actor, and former "Delco Idol Junior" winner, Palmarini was cast in the role of the conflicted Jewish teen Evan Goldman.
Impressed by the production and the stellar young talent in the show, Cline decided Wilmington's "13" had to be seen by a wider audience.
Cline feels strongly that the partnership exemplifies its mission to support and showcase young talent. "We at The Media Theatre have an obligation to provide opportunities not just for young actors, but for audiences to see what these youth are really all about," he explained. "The musical "13", as presented by Wilmington Drama League, was very much similar in style to the type of work we do with teens. It's all about who they are at this moment in time with no pretension and no filter. It's a great fit for our stage at The Media Theatre."
So, due to Palmarini's involvement, the extension of Wilmington Drama League's "13" and its transfer to The Media Theatre was born. The show will be in Media May 30 through June 8, with performances on Friday evenings, a matinee and evening performance on Saturdays, and a matinee on Sunday each week.
The production also features twelve other actors from Delaware and Pennsylvania who have found a strong kinship performing the insightful, humorous, and poignant musical.
Palmarini was overwhelmed when the show's director, Nick D'Argenio, called him with the news that he had been cast as the show's protagonist Evan Goldman. "The music is difficult and the role requires you to be likeable even though Evan is not always the nicest guy," Palmarini said. "I knew it would be a tough process."
Palmarini, however, is not immune to facing challenges. "I've been at The Media Theatre since I was six years old," he explained. "I've been in their summer camps, teen musicals, and youth series. One of my biggest challenges was taking on the lead role in the teen version of "Hair" at Media last summer, which was directed by Jesse Cline."
So it was a natural event for Cline and his team to travel to Wilmington to see Palmarini in "13" in Wilmington this past January. "I was proud of what my cast mates and I had accomplished," Palmarini explained. "I wanted to share with The Media Theatre what we had done. But I never imagined that they'd be so impressed by the show that they would invite us to bring it to Media! That was a dream come true."
In "13" Palmarini plays a young Jewish boy from New York City who is dealing with the separation of his parents, a move to Indiana, and the loss of the only life he knew. The young actor had to learn to sing the Haftarah in Hebrew which is a right of passage for Bar Mitzvah.
"Doing that was one of the final things I worked on for the show," Palmarini remembers. "My mom found some movies about the importance of Bar Mitzvah. It's really all about taking responsibility for yourself and your faith. I did some research about why it was so important to the role I play in "13"."
Now, with the extension and 'remounting' of "13" in Media, Palmarini and his fellow cast members will have the opportunity to 'reunite'. "We understand each other," Palmarini says. "We are all teens and we love performing. We've developed a life long bond."
Palmarini is an eighth grade student at Northley Middle School in Aston, PA, which is not far from Wilmington, DE, where several of his new theatre friends reside.
"The show holds an important message for everyone," he said. "Teenagers and adults will relate to its themes. It gives audiences the message to be who you are, to not try to be the person next to you. It's about taking responsibility within your own unique self and within your own abilities. You're never going to please everyone, so you might as well be yourself."
"13" has a pop-rock musical theatre score from Jason Robert Brown, the Tony winning composer who has also created Broadway's recent "Bridges of Madison County" as well as "Parade" and "The Last Five Years". The show has a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics as it tells the story of Evan Goldman who deals with his parents' divorce and gets thrust from NYC to Indiana.
All Broadway Series and Youth Series at The Media Theatre are produced by Media Music Theatre Company, as well as its educational programs from which Gianni Palmarini found his calling as an actor. "The work done by this young cast is a testament to the high quality professional training they are receiving both at Wilmington Drama League and our own training program at The Media Theatre," said Artistic Director Jesse Cline.
For tickets to "13: The Musical" at The Media Theatre May 30-June 8 call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.