Thursday, October 23, 2008

13 (The SOB Review)

13 (The SOB Review) - Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York, NY

*** (out of ****)

Be forewarned. High School Musical it ain't.

But thank goodness for that.

Think of Jason Robert Brown's exuberant new musical 13 as a positive puberty piece. It's a latter-day answer to "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten." With tunes like the inspired "A Little More Homework," even jaded Wall Streeters can reflect and be reminded of a thing or two when it comes to what constitutes really living.

Mostly family-friendly, except for a PG-rated item or two, 13 heralds Brown's long-awaited return to Broadway, and his tuneful, rich score does not disappoint.

Neither does the breathtaking display of teen talent, as all 13 cast members, along with orchestra, are age appropriate. As Evan, a guppy out of water who's suddenly been transplanted from New York City to Appleton, Indiana, the charismatic Graham Phillips delights. Being the new kid on the block isn't easy, especially when you're a "Brain." It's even more difficult when he realizes that he's won the heart of the unpopular Patrice (played with remarkable emotional depth by Allie Trimm), threatening Evan's own prospects for popularity. Phillips brings an astonishing degree of nuance for such a young actor.

Yet it's Al Calderon as Eddie, who manages to steal just about every scene he's in as the sidekick to Brett (a terrific Eric Nelsen), Dan Quayle High's super cool dude and nemesis to Evan. It's virtually impossible to take your eyes off this gifted young comic actor.

Sure the book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn at times goes from earnest to hokey in record time during this 90-minute show, but thanks to Jeremy Sams' pacing, Christopher Gattelli's unrestrained choreography, and Brown's beautiful score, I found myself transfixed, charmed and downright moved.

So if you're seeking a little Main Street break, or even hope, from the bleak news coming from Wall Street, head up to Midtown New York and catch a welcome respite in 13. I'm glad I did.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 24 October, 2008, Blogger Mondschein said...

I think you and I saw different shows. I left about 2/3 the way through. To me, it smacked of "Glory Days." If you don't have much to share a year out of high school, there's certainly less to say about the awkward and painful period of puberty.

At 24 October, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Mondschein, Did you see the show in previews or the final version?


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