These kids are cracking from the strain, going totally insane just because they’re about to turn 13! Third Wall productions takes to the stage with the second production of its inaugural season, a rarely produced musical— 13: The Musical. Featuring a story about what it’s like to survive middle school while turning 13, the cast— as it was on Broadway— is filled with actual teenagers! In a TheatreBloom exclusive interview series, we’ve sat down with each member of the 16 person cast to ask them some of the real tough questions about what it’s like to live life at 13.
Thanks for sitting down with us today! Why don’t you start by telling us who you are, where you go to school, and what part you play in the show?
Taylor Casalena: I’m Taylor Casalena. I’m in the ensemble for this production of 13 and I go to Harford Tech, which is in Harford County. It’s a technical high school. I’m in their cosmetology program. I’m in twelfth grade and I’ve got a little bit of senioritis. I’m 18 years old.
What is it like being 18 years old and having to remember what it was like being 13 to play in this show?
Taylor: My school just actually did 13 as their school production. I was in that so I sort of already got the gist of what it’s like to have to act younger. Coming into a cast that’s actually a whole lot younger, a lot of these people are actually 13, you get a much better idea of what it’s like to actually be 13.
Were you in the ensemble in your school’s production?
Taylor: I played Molly at my school. Molly is one of the cheerleaders. She’s a friend of Lucy’s.
Are you a cheerleader?
Taylor: In that production of the show? Yes. In real life? NO.
What classes do you like taking in school?
Taylor: I’d say I like English. I definitely like English. I like drama, which I’m finally taking this year. I definitely enjoy drama. I would probably say I don’t like taking math all that much. I’m not a math person. Definitely not.
The show talks about bullying. How do you feel about bullying?
Taylor: I don’t like bullying. I’m a person who has been bullied before. This show kind of shows the take on how to deal with bullying. There’s a lot of peer involved. You don’t want to be that victim but you also don’t want to be that person that stands up either. I think as the story develops on, if you’re the one that stands up, things can get better and you can make your own friends.
The show also talks about labels. How do you feel about labels?
Taylor: I think especially in middle school, I remember there were a lot more labels to go around and a lot more cliques. As someone who has now gone through high school, it kind of stays. But I’ve seen how it changes. I think there are definitely labels in life. Some are positive and some are negative. It just depends on how people look at them. I think some labels, like the ones you give yourself, are a good thing. But the labels that other people give you aren’t always a good thing.
What has been the biggest challenge for you being a part of this show?
Taylor: I’d say…probably the biggest challenge for me is just that I’m doing a whole different production of it now. Having to learn the different dance moves and different parts is cool but a bit challenging. Doing the show already has been a big help with learning all of that though.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Taylor: I like staying at home and playing with my dogs. I have a chocolate lab, a yellow lab, and a long-haired miniature dachshund. The dachshund is Shorty, the yellow lab is Noodles, and the chocolate lab is Dexter.
Do you have a favorite song from the show?
Taylor: I think I’d say “A Little More Homework.” I think that song is definitely very relatable for people who are younger and still in school. There’s still so much growing we have to do. We definitely need to take the time to grow and become who we are and learn from our mistakes.
Do you have a favorite moment or a favorite scene in the show?
Taylor: Oh gosh! Hmm. I kind of like the opening. It’s a very fun and upbeat way to start the show. It explains to the audience what’s about to happen in a really fun and upbeat way. That’s one of my favorite parts.
What do you want to be when you— well you’re almost, actually you technically are grown up— what do you want to be when you graduate?
Taylor: A cosmetologist. I started off wanting to do cosmetology when I was much younger because my mom’s a cosmetologist. Through the years, I’ve always felt that way. I definitely want to continue it while I go through college. But I think theatre has definitely taken my heart though. So I definitely want to go the acting way too? Cosmetology has helped me in a lot of different areas, so it’s hard to decide. Maybe I’ll do both!
What has being a part of this show taught you about yourself?
Taylor: I think it’s kind of just taught me…jeez, this is a hard question. What has it made me think? It kind of just makes me go back to thinking about who I was in middle school. I’m definitely different from these characters in the show. I’ve grown a lot from that kid I used to be then to where I am now. I think this show has definitely opened my eyes to that.
What do you think people are going to learn when they come and see this show?
Taylor: I think they’re going to walk away thinking about how they related to the things they see happening in the show. I think it’s going to teach the younger kids that everybody is different and that you need to give everybody a chance, not just try and fall into the “cool” crowd. I think anyone from any generation can somehow learn something like that from this show.
Why do you want people to come and see 13: The Musical?
Taylor: Because it’s a really fun show and I think the kids are just super energetic. They love doing the show, and I love doing the show. Overall, with all the love and passion in this show, it’s going to be a really awesome thing for people to come and see.
13: The Musical opens on May 13, 2016 and plays through May 22, 2016 with Third Wall Productions at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah— 5801 Hartford Road in Baltimore’s Hamilton neighborhood. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 443-838-4064 or purchasing them online.