13 - Original West End Cast Recording
Timing is everything. Drama educators have always complained about the lack of quality musicals for the 11-14 year-old market, a demographic where the average relationship usually lasts (at most) four days, gossip is as common as breathing, and our bodies are changing so rapidly that we never know who we're looking at in the mirror from day to day.
The musical "13," with lyrics and music by Tony-award winner Jason Robert Brown ("Parade," "The Last Five Years"), and book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn has the great fortune of being that show. It had already been licensed over one thousand times in the past five years, attesting that the musical has successfully struck a chord with this demographic, giving kids a show that speaks directly to their awkward age range.
The original Broadway cast recording was released in 2007, but the writers have continued to rework and refine the piece. Now we have "13 - the Original West End Cast Recording," available on Ghostlight Records, and performed by the talented kids of the National Youth Music Theatre, and though the American teens are being played by young actors from across the pond, future productions of the show will have this new reference available to enjoy and to hear several tracks not previously available.
The plot is straightforward. New Yorker Evan Goldman is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, when his parents breakup and his mom takes him and moves to her sister's in Appleton, Indiana, where newcomers (especially Jews) are as common as mountain ranges. But Evan befriends the town outsiders, Patrice the nerd, and Archie, who is physically handicapped, and they go about enduring school (the humorously titled "Dan Quayle Junior High School"), the jocks, the cheerleaders and the "drama" that accompanies this most uncomfortable time of our lives.
The performances are strong, as expected under the direction of Brown himself, and the six-piece band handles the rock-flavored score with ease. Fortunately, we have this recording to enjoy, and it doesn't require any pimples or stuck lockers.
"13 - West End Recording"
National Youth Music Theatre / Jason Robert Brown
CD and Digital formats