13: The Musical centers on Evan Goldman, who, after his parent’s divorce, moves from NYC to small-town Indiana and must master the complex social circles of his new school and win friends by turning his Bar Mitzvah into the coolest party of the year. McNellis plays Lucy, a popular and mischievous cheerleader who has a crush on the boy that her best friend Kendra also likes. She plots an elaborate scheme to prevent them from kissing, roping in an unwitting Evan. The role, which originally starred Elizabeth Gillies on Broadway, also features one of the most elaborate and impressive musical numbers (Opportunity) of the whole film, with Frankie leading the song and dance routine.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, “13: The Musical is the perfect teen film! A relatable protagonist and outstanding acting help audiences see themselves in this movie. Elaborate choreography and an ensemble of young actors make you feel like you’re watching a Broadway production.” See her full review and interviews below.
13: The Musical
By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
13: The Musical is the perfect teen film! A relatable protagonist and outstanding acting help audiences see themselves in this movie. Elaborate choreography and an ensemble of young actors make you feel like you’re watching a Broadway production.
13: The Musical follows Evan Goldman (Eli Golden), a twelve-year-old boy whose life has been turned upside down when his parents divorce. He prepares for his bar mitzvah and moves from New York to Indiana as he tries to figure out who he is and what he wants from life.
This film hits every mark. The soundtrack is upbeat with catchy tunes; the dance numbers are exciting; and the acting takes center stage. Eli’s performance as Evan is remarkable as it’s light and relatable. He’s a triple threat as his acting, singing, and dancing are superb. He’s a rising star. Everyone can remember themselves as being thirteen when watching Eli portray Evan. The film is a perfect translation of the Broadway show. Every dance and song capture the greatness of its predecessor.
This film sets standards for what movies aimed at teenage audiences should be. This accurate representation of kids transitioning into teens is what viewers crave watching. Evan’s desire for independence and uncertainty of who he’s supposed to be is a bright take on our youthful years. He struggles with his parents’ divorce and moving to a new town. He learns what it means to be a good friend and what love really is. His friend, Patrice (Gabriella Uhl), really steals the show. She’s funny and kind, the type of friend anyone would want to have. Her chemistry with Evan makes viewers want more of this unlikely duo. This movie is visually beautiful. Every character wears bright colors; the lighting balances out the wardrobes, turning each scene into aesthetic pastel shots. Each character shines in their own way, intriguing viewers to find out more about them. All their personalities make this friend group as interesting as possible. Other standout cast members include Rhea Perlman, Josh Peck, Debra Messing and Lindsey Blackwell.
The moral of the film is that it’s okay to not know who you are. Evan tries to solve all of his problems before his bar mitzvah. Throughout the movie he learns that life is messy and fun and to enjoy every moment of it.
I give 13: The Musical 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It begins streaming on Netflix August 12, 2022.
Keywords: Tamra Davis, Debra Messing, Eli Golden ,Gabriella Uhl, JD McCrary, Frankie McNellis, Lindsey Blackwell, Jonathan Lengel, Ramon Reed, Rhea Perlman, Josh Peck, Peter Hermann, Robert Horn, Jason Robert Brown, Dan Elish, Neil Meron, Boyett, Mark Nicholson, Jason Robert Brown, Robert Horn