At “13” life is a magical bliss, fun, and a sheer delight!
A musical-play review by Oliver Carnay

(Photo: cast of "13 The Musical" during Opening Night last January 7, playing at the Mark Taper Forum until February 18, 2007. See more pics from the after-party at Photo Gallery)

Tony-award winner Jason Robert Brown has created show-stopper songs to match the talented and energetic teens in the new musical play “13,” which is playing at the Mark Taper Forum until February 18, 2007. From the book by Dan Elish, the one-act musical is creatively directed by Todd Graff -- and is joyously funny, appealing, and a major sheer delight!

The new musical-comedy is a far cry from Catherine Hardwicke and Larry Clark’s teen-angst movie themes where trauma, drugs, incest, and violence were all major topics. In “13,” it’s only clear and clean funny situations, with upbeat-colorful backdrop, rich choreography, and a cool band accompanying the lively mood of a great young ensemble.

Beautiful, heartfelt songs and perfect scoring from Jason Robert Brown is a major component in all the musical numbers, which include: “Thirteen,” “All The Cool Kids,” “Get Me What I Need,” “What It Means To Be A Friend,” “Getting Ready,” “The Bloodmaster,” “Being a Geek,” “Angry Boy,” “Tell Her,” “It Can’t Be True,” “Getting Over It,” “My Name is Archie,” and “Brand New You” (I wonder if there will be a recorded album available to be sold in the future!).

Central lead character Evan Goldman (Rick Ashley), who just moved from New York to Appleton, Indiana, over the summer, is the Jewish son of divorced parents. And like any other kids, he is as well trying to survive the life of a frightening era: being thirteen and being in the “cool group”! He worries about how to invite his school-mates and friends to a celebration of his introduction to Torah – and finding a rabbi to negotiate the perils of his bar mitzvah!

He thinks he is misguided by his pals, which include – his very judgemental best friend - Patrice (Sara Niemietz – this girl has an awesome voice!), the “special needy” Archie (Tyler Mann), the school’s sought after “hottie” - Kendra (Emma Degerstedt), the school’s top football player Brett (J.D. Phillips), and others in the supporting cast: Caitlin Baunoch (Lucy), Jenae Burrows (Charlotte), Tinashe Kachingwe (Cassie), Tyan Ogburn (Ritchie), Ellington Ratliff (Simon), Chloe Smith (Molly), Christian Vandal (Eddie), and Seth Zibalese (Malcolm). In the end, Evan, guided always to “do the right thing,” still manage to open the hearts of everyone.

This smart, magnetic and captivating play is a must for everyone – young kids and old-alike! 13 – The Musical is playing at the Mark Taper Forum (135 N. Grand Ave., between Temple and 1st Street, in Los Angeles, California; 8 PM – Tuesdays through Fridays, 2:30 and 8:30 PM on Saturdays; 2:30 and 8:30 PM on Sundays – through February 18. Tickets are at $20 to $65.

Call (213) 628-2772 or go to the Center Theatre Group website at