Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
STUDENT CENTER - BLOGS
Click Here to Visit the College Center


BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In

Article Pixel

[Joey LaVarco on how he feels about the Netflix remake] “Are we going to hear about Brett’s Instagram story or Kendra’s Tiktok? I can’t wait to find out”.

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
The cast on opening night.

13: The Musical is without a doubt, in every sense of the word, iconic. With a production team that includes Music and Lyricist Jason Robert Brown (Prince of Broadway, The Bridges of Madison County, Parade), Book Writers Dan Elish (13: The Musical) and Robert Horn (Tootsie), Choreographer Christopher Gattelli (The Cher Show, My Fair Lady, Newsies), and Director Jeremy Sams (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Noises Off), there is no question why 13: The Musical was a major success on Broadway. Another factor to the show's success was its extremely talented cast of teenagers, some of which include stars-of-today Liz Gillies (Dynasty, Victorious), Max Schnieder (How To Rock, Rags) and Ariana Grande (Sam & Cat, Victorious). Although the show only ran for 105 performances at the Bernard B. Jacobs theater in 2008, the legacy of the show still lives on today. Enough so, that Netflix is in the process of adapting the show for the screen.

It has been twelve years since 13: The Musical first opened on Broadway, and some of the original Broadway cast members, including Eamon Foley (Richie), Brynn Williams (Cassie), Joey LaVarco (Simon), Mary Claire Miskell (u/s Patrice, Lucy, Molly, Charlotte, Cassie), Malik Hammond (Malcolm), and Lexi Bodick (Bass), share their experience working on the hit Broadway phenomenon, as well as their opinion on the show being adapted for Netflix.

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Eamon Foley recording the cast album for 13.

Eamon Foley (Everyday Rapture, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Assassins, Gypsy) played the character Richie, who is most known for hitting a high F in the song, "Bad Bad News". "...[I]t was brought down a half step, so the fabled F is a lie", shared Foley. "I was fourteen when I did the reading and the Goodspeed production, and fifteen by the time we transferred. I lucked out because I only had to audition for the reading, but it was an extraordinary audition. I sang "Since You've Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson, and my pre-pubescent voice could really nail that high note, a feat that is long gone. [T]he callback was truly beautiful. Jason taught us "A Little More Homework," splitting us into four parts. The power of fifty talented teens singing that song in harmony was truly moving. Then, they split us into groups of four to see if we could hold our own and blend."

When asked where he was when he found out 13: The Musical would be making a Broadway transfer, Foley said, "I was smoking a joint on my front stoop. My mom came out to tell me the news and caught me red handed. I tried to bury the joint in the dirt but the stench gave me away. She threatened to pull me out of the show if she ever caught me again."

While working on 13: The Musical, Foley had an experience that made him realize what direction he wanted to go in with his life. "Chris Gatelli gave me the privilege of choreographing a tap duet with Eric Nelsen (Brett) for the finale of the show. It was just a few [eight counts], and he fine-tuned it, but it was one of those experiences that solidified my future. I'm now proud to say I'm a choreographer."

Some of Foley's fondest memories of 13: The Musical, "...[W]ere at Goodspeed. We were thirteen imaginative theater kids living in the woods, bouncing between rehearsals for a show built around our talents, and skipping stones in the Connecticut River. It was such a safe, idyllic oasis, and the fact that we all lived together made it feel more like summer camp than work."

Foley believes 13: The Musical has a cult following because, "It surely meant a lot to teenage theater kids to see themselves up onstage, but more than anything, it's Jason [Robert Brown's] music. It's soulful, soaring and challenging. The last thing a teenager wants is to be patronized, and his music never did that. Often, songs for kids in Broadway shows sound like lullabies, which stems from this nostalgic desire to present children as happier and/or simpler than adults, which just isn't the case. This music, albeit from the perspective of twelve-year-olds, had the complexity and heart of any adult musical theater score. I think that's where young people felt the most seen and respected."

When asked what his favorite song to perform from the show was, Foley said, '..."Bad Bad News." It was nice to have a moment to shine, but I actually felt most empowered during "A Little More Homework." Those lyrics still speak to me. I'm twenty-seven, and I still have a lot of homework to do..."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
The cast and creatives of 13: The Musical.

How does Foley feel about Netflix making a remake of 13: The Musical? "I've seen this show evolve so much from the reading, to the out of town production, to Broadway, and even to the MTI script that goes to schools and camps. I love that Jason [Robert Brown] and Robert [Horn] keep working on this show and keep rediscovering its heart. I can't wait to see what they uncover next. I hope to see some kids dance their faces off. I hope to see genuine performances. I hope to see the next generation of great actors and vocalists."

Foley has some words of advice for the new cast of 13: The Musical: "Just because you have a big job, doesn't mean you are done growing as a performer. That process never ends. Sometimes success as a kid can stunt you because the world tells you that you're a creative genius and you believe them. The truth of the matter is you're talented for your age, but if you want to be truly great, you need to remain open to learning, keep up your training, and understand that you can always improve upon your craft."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Brynn Williams as Cassie in 13.

Brynn Williams (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory First National Tour, Spongebob Squarepants, The Broadway Musical, Bye Bye Birdie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, In My Life, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) played the character Cassie, who is most known for her powerful vocals in the song, "Brand New You." "I was fourteen when I was auditioning/found out I booked [13: The Musical], but I was fifteen by the time we started rehearsals. What was crazy about my audition was that I was actually in the final callbacks for both 13: The Musical and the replacement cast of Spring Awakening at the same time. In one day, I sang for Jason Robert Brown, had scene work with Michael Mayer for Spring Awakening, and then went to a dance callback with Christopher Gattelli. I crashed into my bed that night!"

When asked where she was when she found out she booked 13: The Musical, Williams said, "I was at home in Maryland. I was lucky that I had an agent and manager who were waiting for information... Everything lined up so I was waiting to hear about both Spring Awakening and 13: The Musical at the same time. I was glued to my mom anytime she got a phone call. I heard it the same time she did!"

Williams has many fond memories working on 13: The Musical: "...We would all do a vocal warmup in the basement before every show. It was the only time that we, onstage actors and swings, were all together, so that was always fun. I remember the excitement anytime we got to perform at events like Broadway in Bryant Park or Broadway on Broadway. It was incredible! Recording our cast album was an insane experience because we got there crazy early and there was a camera crew following us around and documenting all of it. Opening night...really all of them are fond memories because 13: The Musical was filled with so many firsts for me and we got to experience them together."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Allie Trimm (left) and Brynn Williams (right).

When asked what her favorite song to perform from the show was, Williams said, "I loved performing 'Brand New You!' It was that moment in the show where everyone was just having a good time. We got to break the fourth wall with the audience and really rock out and show our individual talents! Other than that, I loved anytime we sang the "I can't wait to come to your party" lines. It was the hardest for me to learn rhythmically and sounded so cool when we all nailed it!"

How does Williams feel about Netflix making a remake of 13: The Musical? "I love it! In the grand scheme of things, 13: The Musical didn't really run that long. We experienced a lot of our popularity after we closed, and once it started getting performed across the world in schools and camps. I love that people who might not know about 13: The Musical will get a chance to experience the story, and hopefully identify with the characters and the message. The coolest thing about 13: The Musical, in my opinion, is that we had an all teen band. No other show has done that! So, I hope it stays that way AND that they are actually featured in the movie. I think with a little creativity you could justify this random band of muses orchestrating Evan's musical inner monologues, or maybe they'll just be kids who happen to always be around when Evan needs to sing. More than anything, I want an all teen band like what we had on Broadway. Plus, I selfishly want the original Broadway cast to make cameos throughout the movie. That would be so cool. My bags are still packed from the tour. I'll fly out to shoot whenever! Haha!"

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Max Schneider and Brynn Williams in rehearsal.

When asked how being in the original cast of 13: The Musical has impacted her life and career, Williams shared, "I get people from all over the world messaging me on social media talking about what the show means to them. At least once a month, people tell me that they are auditioning for, were cast in, or are opening a production of 13: The Musical. I am forever linked to that show. I'm honored and very thankful to have been part of it. From a career standpoint, I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but 13: The Musical had a STACKED creative team! I got to work closely with some musical theatre giants and learn directly from them at a young age. I've carried the lessons they taught me through my entire career. Also, when I walk into an audition room, I'm immediately at ease if one of them is behind the table. It doesn't mean that I will for sure book the job, but having that extra support and comfort behind the table significantly helps the nerves. During 13: The Musical we were family, so auditioning for them is like performing for my uncles... my uncles who all have Tony awards... casual."

Williams has some words of advice for the new cast of 13: The Musical: "Make it your own. Don't try to recreate what we did twelve years ago. OhDearLord it just occurred that some of the new cast might not have even been born when we performed this show. A moment of silence for my youth and brief midlife crisis...and moving on. Add your own flair to it and be your own authentic self. I know that sounds weird considering that 13: The Musical is a show all about fitting in, but trust me! I would rather see a completely different take on the character than someone trying to be Graham [Phillips] or Liz [Gillies] or Allie [Trimm] or Eric [Nelsen] or Ariana [Grande] or Malik [Hammond] etc. And have fun!!!"

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Joey LaVarco on the opening night of 13.

Joey LaVarco (Jersey Boys at New World Stages, The Radio Christmas Spectacular) played the character Simon, who is most known for his performance in the song, "Bad Bad News" "I was twelve when I booked the show. My thirteenth birthday was actually the opening night of our out of town tryout at Goodspeed. [For the first audition]...they asked kids to come in with a pop/rock song. I didn't have any pop/rock in my book, so I sang "It's Possible" from Seussical. After I sang, Mark [Simon], [the casting director], asked me to come back for the composer, but asked that I bring in a pop/rock song. That next week, I added "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel to my book and brought it to my callback...In the middle of the song, [Jason Robert Brown] started full out drumming on the table, which I thought was super cool and very encouraging at that moment."

When asked where he was when he found out he booked 13: The Musical, LaVarco said, "I was eating dinner with my family at our home in Jersey [when I found out I booked the Goodspeed production]. My mom got a call from my agent, telling us I booked it, and then we had a cry fest around the dining room table. When we were finishing up the run at Goodspeed, production sat the kids and their parents down and told us that our agents would get offers a week after closing if we were going to transfer with the show. That following week, I was back at public school in Jersey, and my teachers let me check my phone during class because they knew what I was waiting for. Eventually, I got a text from my mom saying 'YOU'RE GOING TO BROADWAY' and all I remember is screaming at the top of my lungs in the middle of class and my whole class cheering. It was a really cool moment."

LaVarco has many fond memories working on 13: The Musical: "Our entire time at Goodspeed was really special...By the time we went to Broadway, it was already so exciting because of how much fun the Goodspeed experience was. The Broadway at Bryant Park performance was the first time we shared anything from the show to the New York audience, so that was very exciting. Getting to record the cast album, especially with Jason Robert Brown and Tom Kitt, is definitely up there. Also, the first time we saw our faces on the billboard outside the theater is something I'll never forget."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Eamon Foley, Joey LaVarco,
Riley Costello, and Mary Claire Miskell.

LaVarco believes 13: The Musical has a cult following because, "[I]t's the first and one of the only shows of its kind. It's a show made for younger people that's not Disney or a campy children's show. The score was never dumbed down because it's all teens, so you have teenagers belting out Jason Robert Brown bops. The story and what Evan goes through is relatable to anyone who's ever been a teenager. The jokes are funny for both teens and adults. Ultimately, it's just a timeless coming of age story."

When asked what his favorite song from the show to perform was, LaVarco said, "That's a toss-up between "13" and "Bad Bad News." "13" is just an electric opening number between the music and the choreography. "Bad Bad News" was one of the only moments you heard Simon's point of view and it was super fun to have that comedic relief song."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
The cast of 13.

How does LaVarco feel about Netflix making a remake of 13: The Musical? "I'm excited! It's so cool that it's going to live on through this younger generation. I'm thrilled for a whole new cast to make it their own, and I'm excited for the writers to be working on it again after so many years. I'm curious to see how the story is influenced by our current social media age. In 2008, we didn't have the sites and apps that teens use now. Are we going to hear about Brett's Instagram story or Kendra's Tiktok? I can't wait to find out. I'd love to see a diverse group of actors that represent the world we live in today take on these characters. It would be really cool to see if any cut songs make their way back into the movie. I'm sure new material will be added, so if not that, I'm excited to see what new music Jason Robert Brown adds. I also hope to get some more backstory on some of these characters, maybe regarding their home lives or their history before Evan shows up in Appleton, Indiana. Maybe even some more moments for Simon!"

When asked if he still keeps in touch with the cast, LaVarco shared, "Social media makes it super easy to, nowadays. Occasionally, I'll see someone at an audition or a concert. We recently had a zoom reunion with most of the cast and some of the creatives, which was really nice. If someone is doing something in the area, I'll try and catch it. I got to see Brynn Williams play Sandy in Spongebob Squarepants, The Broadway Musical, and that felt like such a proud friend moment."

LaVarco has some words of advice for the new cast of 13: The Musical: "Absorb every moment of it, onscreen and off. Cherish every second of it, because it will be one of the greatest experiences of your career. The best part about our production was how much fun we had creating it, so make sure you goof around as much as possible! It'll be worth it."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
(From left to right) Delaney Moro, Max Schneider,
Al Calderon, Brynn Williams, Riley Costello,
and Mary Claire Miskell.

Mary Claire Miskell (13: The Musical) was the original understudy for the characters Patrice, Lucy, Molly, Charlotte, and Cassie. "I was actually thirteen when I booked the show, and turned fourteen about a month before rehearsals started. I had auditioned for the Goodspeed production about a year prior, and got to the end of final callbacks. I didn't end up booking the production, but I went to see it in Connecticut and ran into the casting director after the show. They called me in probably a couple months later, and I went through the callback process as I finished up eighth grade...I sang "Angels", the Jessica Simpson version, obviously, for the audition, and got to live my middle school pop ballad dreams."

When asked where she was when she found out she booked 13: The Musical, Miskell said, "I was in rehearsal at school for my middle school graduation and I got called to the office. I didn't have a cellphone at the time, so my mom had called the office with the news. We screamed on the phone and I remember she sincerely asked me, "So do you want to do this?". I was so excited and definitely said yes right away, but I'll always remember that my mom wanted me to do what would make me happy..."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
The opening number of 13.

Miskell has many fond memories working on 13: The Musical: "So many of us were making our Broadway debuts, so everything was happening for the first time. My fondest memory is just remembering how excited we were. No one was jaded or unappreciative of the opportunity. We really loved each other too! We goofed off and also worked really, really hard. We had so much fun taking these big leaps together and I'll never forget that feeling."

When asked what her favorite song to perform from the show was, Miskell said, "I always loved "Here I Come", which was sadly cut during previews. That was the hardest number to put together too. You had to have so much vocal and physical stamina to get through it and finish out the first act when it was two acts. Once we aced that number it was so much fun. Our energy blew the roof off."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
13: The Musical cast photo.

How does Miskell feel about Netflix making a remake of 13: The Musical? "I'm so excited to see it! I'm curious to see how the show has changed. Rob Horn is so hilarious and Jason Robert Brown has teenage daughters now, so I'm sure they have so much new material. It'll be so nostalgic. I'm sure I'll cry. I hope we get to see a little bit about how empowered this new generation of teens are. Of course the show is about the stumbles and awkward learning experiences, but I see so much confidence and engagement from teens today. They really care about the planet and social/political issues. Also, social media has become such a huge part of life since we did the show. I can't imagine being a teen with that kind of access and pressure. It's a new world they're growing up in, so I'm sure it'll be a new show."

Miskell has some words of advice for the new cast of 13: The Musical: "...Being that age and doing the show is so special. Rehearsing and performing it is all about vulnerability, support and fun. You have such a unique perspective that the adults around you don't have. Keep it joyful and work hard."

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
(From left to right)
Malik Hammond, Al Calderon, Brynn Williams,
Riley Costello, Allie Trimm,
Mary Claire Miskell, and Liana Ortiz.

Malik Hammond (People Garden, McDonald's Gospel Tour with Tye Tribbett) played the character Malcolm, who is most known for his break dancing in the song, "Brand New You." Hammond was fifteen when he booked 13: The Musical.

When asked where he was when he found out he booked 13: The Musical, Hammond said, "I believe I was home with family and my mother got the call from my agent at the time. Much study into the Broadway experience THAT NIGHT! [It] was a complete dream come true."

While working on 13: The Musical, Hammond, "...Had the pleasure of creating a dance solo for the ending of the show...It definitely gave me an extra opportunity to shine individually."

Some of Hammond's fondest memories working on 13: The Musical include "Singing India. Arie songs with Ariana [Grande]. [The] rituals we all would do before, during and after the show [were] totally unforgettable moments."

When asked what his favorite song from the show to perform was, Hammond said, "Bad Bad News" and "Brand New You."

How does Hammond feel about Netflix making a remake of 13: The Musical? "It's a great idea! [I] can't wait to see what comes of it! I hope that the true feelings of a twelve-year-old comes out. The pressure that honestly comes with their family situations and expectations. I hope the same approach in adding diversity to the Broadway cast is taken with the next production. Now more than ever, we need to be able to see every culture represented in TV and film."

When asked how being in the original cast of 13: The Musical has impacted his life and career, Hammond shared, "It's given me a priceless perspective on show business. The key to success follows after work ethic [and] talent, but more importantly good character. This experience taught me to keep [that] all intact."

Hammond has some words of advice for the new cast of 13: The Musical: "Stay true to your interpretation of the character".

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
The 13: The Musical band.

Lexi Bodick (Waitress Broadway Sub, First National Tour, Six Broadway Sub), played the bass for the Goodspeed and Broadway productions. "I think I was fourteen when I booked 13: The Musical! The audition process was unlike anything I've ever experienced. [There were] about 100 teen/tween musicians in a circle in a rehearsal room grouped by instrument...Jason Robert Brown would call up kids and have them run the audition song, which was the opening number of the show. Then, kids would be dismissed in rounds."

When asked where she was when she found out she booked 13: The Musical, Bodick said, "I was sitting in a school assembly when I saw the text come up on my Blackberry and I had to hold in an excited shriek in front of my whole freshman class."

Bodick has many fond memories working on 13: The Musical: "Recording the cast album at Legacy Recording Studio was such a great memory. We recorded the whole album without a click track, which until I got older, [I] never realized how difficult and unusual that is. We sounded so great and I was really proud to be recording with all [of] my cast and musician buddies. Another fond memory is getting to live in actor housing during Goodspeed. When we were not rehearsing, we all got to hang out, have cookouts, goof around, and be kids! Many an hour was spent taking hilarious group selfies on Photobooth; such a throwback. Some of my favorite fan experiences are when people come up to me on the street, or on other gigs, and tell me how much 13: The Musical means to them, and how much they love seeing Latina representation on stage. I really feel like representation is an important step in getting more diverse talent on stage!"

BWW Blog: It Can't Be True! Broadway's 13: The Musical is Being Adapted for Netflix - Original Broadway Cast Weighs In
Lexi Bodick on stage.

When asked what her favorite song to play from the show was, Bodick said, "..."It Can't Be True' because it has such a funky bass part! "Here I Come" was also amazing and I was bummed when it was cut! The way Jason Robert Brown set up the band was really unique because we were on stage without headsets or a click every show. This [is] unlike most experiences I have in pits. We were really forced to listen to each other, and not being constrained to a click track made every show really special...Everyone was listening and extremely present in the moment. It was one of the most authentic musical theater experiences I've had!"

How does Bodick feel about Netflix making a remake of 13: The Musical? "I am SO excited! I cannot wait to see it! I hope to see an even more diverse array of talented kids on the screen telling this beautiful story!"

Bodick has some words of advice for the new cast of 13: The Musical: "Take care of yourself and the people around you. This work is taxing emotionally and physically and it is so important to stay healthy and happy in order to do the good work! I love that the 13: The Musical company really had each other's backs during even the most difficult growing pains of teenagedom, and I hope that every cast has that experience!"


Related Articles

From This Author Student Blogger: Kyle Morales