13 | Review


With its Broadway debut almost 14 years ago, 13: The Musical was a launchpad for some of the world's brightest stars. Ariana Grande, Liz Gillies and Allie Trimm are a few of the many names that made up the original cast, and now Netflix gets its version for the stars of tomorrow to showcase their excellence. 

With a wealth of experience in the director's chair behind her, Tamra Davis revitalises the story of Evan Goldman for a new generation.

Forced to move to Indiana from NYC after his parent's divorce, Evan is navigating the complexities of making friends in a new town with his bar mitzvah on the horizon. 

The first thing to note is that it's refreshing to see kids who look like kids on screen. 13 captures the angst of being on the cusp of teenage life where the world feels so big, and you feel so small. There's something magic in the pairing of Davis' direction and the production design of Almitra Corey - the world looks and feels big. Part of that credit must also go to cinematographer Adam Santelli who is well versed in shooting for music videos. Dave Hussey must also get acclaim for his work as the digital intermediate colourist, bringing to life the saturation of being 13 and having the whole world in front of you as your playground. It has Disney Channel Original Movie qualities to it which may be a testament to Tamra Davis' 3-episode stint as a director on High School Musical: The Musical - The Series. 

It's a burst of colour and dance and song and a celebration of young people being talented which is beautiful to watch. The skill on display is a marvel, the standouts being the incredible vocals of JD McCrary, Frankie McNellis, Lindsey Blackwell, Gabriella Uhl and our lead Eli Golden, who is a fantastic Evan for the new generation. There must also be some recognition for the supporting cast, particularly those who performed Bad Bad News and nailed it.

Fans of the original 13 may leave disappointed, missing hit songs like What It Means to Be A Friend, It Can't Be True, and If That's What It Is, but there must be an understanding that 14 years ago, teens were wildly different to those of today. You also get the fantastic Opportunity back (an omission from the Broadway show) and the new song I've Been Waiting. Those who loved it in 2008 must now graciously give space for teens of today to love it the same way.


Moving a piece from stage to screen is never easy, and although something about the emotion in the film isn't quite resonant, it is a lot of fun, and it should be applauded for its celebration of young people with immense talent. Plus, how far wrong can you go with Jason Robert Brown in the composer seat?

13 lands on Netflix August 12th 2022. 

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