PICK Me Up Theatre producer Robert Readman reckons everything adds up for Broadway teen musical 13 to “become popular bit by bit”. He’s playing his part by giving Jason Robert Brown’s “grown-up story about growing up” its York premiere.

Chances are that you won’t have heard of a musical that made its Broadway bow in 2008 and made its British debut at the National Youth Theatre only two years ago. Readman tracked down the NYT cast recording and, with his customary good judgement, decided it would be perfect for Pick Me Up with its combination of a contemporary rock-pop score and storytelling lyrics marked by a theatrical flourish, acid drops of black humour and the sting of outsider sadness.

This combination should ensure it will appeal not only to teens, going through their hot and bothered hormonal confusion, but also to their parents, who have been there, done that and are now experiencing it all again through their darling children.

Brown has a sharp eye for characterisation and a sharp ear for a tune, as best affirmed by Parade, and now in his latest Broadway show, a musical version of The Bridges Of Madison County. Readman argues Brown is yet to have an off day, and certainly 13 backs his case, aided by his choice of director, 19-year-old actor Daniel McGuinness in his debut in the hot seat after impressive performances for Readman in Grease and Peter Pan.

McGuinness gives the show three immediate strengths: teenage energy and shared experience and his own Jewish pedigree that informs Brown’s Jewish-witted story of Evan Goldman’s trials and tribulations as he strives to become a man at 13.

After his parents divorce, New Yorker Evan (Jack Armstrong, in his first role since the Artful Dodger at Sheffield Crucible) has to leave the Big Apple for small-fry Appleton, Indiana. Welcome to the “lamest place in the world”, where immediately he is cast as the odd one out, “the Brain”, as he strives to get in with the junior high school in-crowd, led by sporty Brett (Jed Berry), in the hope they will attend his Bar Mitzvah, “the Jewish Superbowl”.

Brett is being fought over by Ebony Hiley’s Kendra (the Sandra Dee of the show) and Sophie Cox’s lippy, wildcat Lucy, who is never shy in coming too far forward. Evan tries to steer Brett’s path to Kendra but ends up the outsider with two fellow outcasts, Kiera Leaper’s Patrice, “the geek”, and Ned Tomlinson’s wise-cracking Archie, “the crip” from special needs on crutches. Their partnership works wonderfully as they spark off each other under McGuinness’s direction, Armstrong having an air of pathos, Leaper, the best American singing accent and a knock-out voice, and Tomlinson, an acute sense of comedy.

Berry and Cox have plenty of fireworks too – as do Berry and Nadia Douglass’s choreography and Barbara Chan’s band leadership – and another joy of 13 is its spread of colourful supporting roles that give so many cast members a moment in the singing spotlight.

Marks out of ten? 13 of course.

13 The Musical, Pick Me Up Theatre, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tonight at 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568, yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or pickmeuptheatre.com