Filichia Features: 13: Full of Lucky Numbers

Filichia Features: 13: Full of Lucky Numbers

By Peter Filichia on August 01, 2019

In Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim flatly admits that "People make mistakes."

Yes - but teenagers tend to make more.

And kids who have just reached 13 err even more often than "elderly" teens.

We certainly see that in 13. Bookwriters Dan Elish and Robert Horn have almost every character in their all-teen cast do something awful.

But wait! They have the kids learn valuable lessons. Once teens in your cast and audience see the ramifications of such transgressions, they'll be far less likely to repeat them.

Elish and Horn - the latter recently won a Best Book Tony for Tootsie - must have done voluminous research for this 2008 musical. They definitely penetrated the hearts, souls and minds of 21 st century teens.

So did Jason Robert Brown, who created many apt lyrics to music that sounds right for these young voices.

Our leading man is 13-year-old Evan Goldman, who has problems enough with his parents divorcing. Then to discover that his mother is moving them both to Appleton, Indiana is the rotten cherry on top of the melted sundae.

"I'm in a town where UFOs go to refuel," he moans.

Once there, Evan meets the nicest kid in town: Patrice, who isn't shy. She comes right out and says that she likes him. Evan immediately invites her to his upcoming bar-mitzvah.

Frankly, Evan needs all the bodies he can get to at least create the illusion of a successful party. He soon finds that his allegiance to Patrice is a liability, for none of her classmates like her and state that they won't attend the shindig if Patrice goes.

That adolescent response - let's call it Teen Mistake Number One - spurs Evan to make Teen Mistake Number Two and disinvite Patrice.

Yes, 13 is "The Peer Pressure Musical." Evan will do anything to be in with Brett, the school's quarterback and Kendra, who's perceived as the school's best-looking girl.

Boys who try to date her must go through Lucy, Kendra's so-called best friend. She runs interference to ensure that no unworthy boy gets near Kendra.

Actually, Lucy is the unworthy one. Brown gave this opportunist the song "Opportunity" on the way to her thinking nothing of betraying Kendra to get Brett for herself.

That's Teen Mistake Number Three which comes right before Brett's Teen Mistake Number Four. A boy can immediately lose interest in the girl he wants when another one makes a no-holes-barred play.

As Patrice says, "Boys are so stupid" before adding "No wonder they're not girls."

After Lucy lands the lad, she makes Teen Mistake Number Five: "I don't need friends," she proudly announces. "I've got Brett."

Minutes later, Lucy makes Teen Mistake Number Six: "Of course we're going to get married," she truly believes.

Don't snicker. When you were in the white-hot heat of Your First Love, could anyone have convinced you that this wouldn't be the person you'd wed?

Brett's interest in Lucy means that Kendra's available -- and Archie wants her. He won't let his condition be a barrier. It's a nice part for a young actor who uses crutches.

Archie asks Evan to help him with Kendra, but all that happens is that Evan makes Teen Mistake Number Seven in making that happen. You'll find that 13 contains at least 13 Teen Mistakes.

Lest it all seem too serious, 13 takes us to an R-rated movie where the boys' goal is kissing in the way that the French supposedly do it. But 13 is most valuable in showing teens that they should apologize when the situation warrants.

"Tell her you just want another chance" goes the lyric in one song. Equally potent is Evan's admitting that "We all have a little more homework to do" in recognizing and appreciating

True Friends.

(And let's face it: some adults we know could use refresher courses in these areas, too.)

The musical does have a happy ending, albeit not the one you may expect. That's not what's really important, though. Just as Jack Nicholson's character famously said in As Good As It Gets "You make me want to be a better man," 13 makes teens want to be better kids.

Although 13 has been an historically unlucky number,

13 can be a winner for you -- even if you open your production on Friday the 13th.

Read 13 for free!

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