A Review by Barbara Mehlman and Geri Manus.

This kinetic, high-powered musical starring 13 pubescent teenagers has something for everyone. It's not as sugary as "High School Musical," and the kids are talented, of the why-can�t-my-kid-be-like-that variety.

Jason Robert Brown's music and lyrics, and Dan Elish and Robert Hom's book, have tapped into nature�s curse that we affectionately call teenage years. How anyone gets past them is a miracle of life itself, but Evan manages to navigate those tricky times better than most.

The story centers on Evan, a street-wise New York kid from the Upper West Side who is in the midst of handing out invitations to his upcoming bar mitzvah -- the "Jewish Super Bowl" -- when his world is turned upside-down. What's the worst thing you can imagine? No, not death and destruction. It's divorce and a move to Appleton, Indiana, a town so small its name isn't even printed on a Google map. Evan's not only a geographic misfit in this redneck town, he's also a religious misfit -- no one's ever met a Jew before. But Evan's intent on going through this rite of passage.

His new friend Patrice, an outsider of the nerdy persuasion, calls Appleton "The Lamest Place in the World," and she's made it her job to get the other kids to accept Evan and party at his strange-named event.

This wholesome, totally G-rated, educational musical is so delightful the kids won't even know it's good for them -- and there's even a study guide to help them understand some of the deeper issue embedded in the story. "Thirteen" deals with greaser-type kids, bigotry, ignorance, and finally, acceptance as it pursues Evan's entrance into the "Now I am a man" world that commences with a religious ceremony that is indeed more than a party.

Parents and grandparents who stay till the end of this fast-paced musical will leave feeling wonderful � as will the kids as they revel in watching their own self-absorbed dramas played out onstage.

Barbara Mehlman & Geri Manus

What the press had to say.....

"I can�t imagine that anyone who isn�t in early adolescence would be crazy about �13,� the shiny and brash new musical about growing up geeky."
Ben Brantley
New York Times

"Thirteen is notorious for being a jinxed number, and anyone heading to "13" hoping to find a story they haven't seen at least a hundred times before is out of luck." & "The pubescent crowd may find this new musical fascinating � but Mom and Dad will be left thinking about 13 better ways they could have spent their ticket dollars."
Joe Dziemianowicz
New York Daily News

"Disarmingly charming new musical." & "The perfect show for those too old for Disney, too young for "Spring Awakening."
Barbara Hoffman
New York Post

"Driven fast by catchy, dynamic rhythms and colorful orchestrations, Brown's 16-song score is light, fresh and always tuneful in nature. Smart lyrics and a wide sampling of song styles ... keep the musical energy level zooming as the intermission-free show speeds along." & "Expect nothing fancy from "13" -- just a sincerely good time."
Michael Sommers

"..as ailing as our economy.." & "Some of the 13 performers are actually 13; other may be old enough to know better. But 13 or not, they come across almost as juvenile as the perpetrators of this infantile concoction."
John Simon

"13 is, if hardly awesome (not even in the lesser sense of the word), an innocuous and sometimes touching diversion."
Elysa Gardner
USA Today

"A smart, fun look at the joys and agonies of growing up." & "Sweet little gem of a show." & "Director Jeremy Sams and choreographer Christopher Gattelli have assembled an energetic and versatile ensemble of youngsters and shown them off to sparkling advantage. .....and they're not syrupy sweet or overly brash in the way too many professional child actors can be."
David Sheward
Back Stage

"The story, directed without distinction by Jeremy Sams, sort of stops rather than builds to a conclusion....The book, by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, is so chopped-up, careless and obvious it almost seems no more than a bridge between Jason Robert Brown's songs." & "They (the cast) come across not as typical youngsters, but as professional performers who happen to be teenagers.
Robert Feldberg
The Record

"Musically robust but surprisingly thin in the story department" & "If the story meanders, the music does not...a lively, highly listenable score." & "It's in the music where "13" often springs to life. His (Brown's) melodies are tuneful and his lyrics quirky enough to surprise you."
Michael Kuchwara
Associated Press

"There's not much in this sweet all-adolescent tuner to engage anyone past puberty." & "If the story had been told with more wit, complexity or universal insight, there might have been something here for the rest of us." & "Brown's melodic songs are well crafted and do the job of bumping the thin story along ... But the composer's work tends to bounce around in tone and rhythm, making it difficult to sing for performers whose voices are still developing."
David Rooney

Originally published on

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