Posted: Sun., Oct. 5, 2008, 5:00pm PT
(Bernard B. Jacobs Theater; 1,042 seats; $111.50 top)
Teens struggle with popularity and crushes in '13,' helmed by Jeremy Sams
By David Rooney
In case anyone missed the lesson learned from "High School Musical" and its endlessly multiplying spawn, kids these days are quite comfortable watching their fictional counterparts burst into song to express their feelings. So the target audience for "13" should have no trouble identifying with the characters onstage as they tunefully reflect on friendship, crushes, popularity, acceptance and tongue action. There's not much in this sweet all-adolescent tuner to engage anyone past puberty, but the other lesson of the Disney franchise is that a narrowly defined demographic is no barrier to success.
full review at:Theater Review: 13 - Theater and Musical Production ReviewsThe question is whether that principle can apply on Broadway. Television and film don't need to reach beyond their core audience to be a hit, and concert or legit ventures spun out of "HSM" or the Miley Cyrus phenomenon are virtually presold to an already rabid fanbase. But "13" is attempting to build a following from the ground up -- with nary a Jonas Brother or Cheetah Girl in sight. Given that Broadway ducats are out of reach on most allowances, the show's producers have their marketing work cut out for them.
That's not to say "13" doesn't have assets. While the storyline by children's novelist Dan Elish and vet TV writer Robert Horn is a familiar fish-out-of-water tale populated by generics (geek, loser, gossip girl, beauty, jock, etc.), it has heart and charm. The kids in the age-appropriate cast are talented. And the score by Jason Robert Brown ("Parade"), which nimbly straddles pop and musical theater idioms, is several notches above the standard processed pap for teen tuners.