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Album Review: 13 THE MUSICAL Soundtrack Represents Melodic Musical Theatre Teenage Angst

Album Review: 13 THE MUSICAL Soundtrack Represents Melodic Musical Theatre Teenage Angst

Jason Robert Brown makes it to the movies and gets a soundtrack out of the deal.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! People come and go so quickly here. So, my lovely rainbow readers, Bobby Patrick, your rainbow reviewer, has been swept up by that adorable tornado, my boss, Stephen Mosher, from the pages of Broadway World Cabaret and dropped down here in Listening Land, and will be taking on the added job of reviewing music releases for all y'all to read. So, for those of you who are not yet acquainted with Bobby as well as those who are DEVOTED readers... strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

Yesterday Netflix dropped the film version of the Broadway musical 13 by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, with the soundtrack releasing simultaneously on the streaming platforms. From the time that 13 was developed for the musical theatre stage to the play's Broadway opening (and closing), to the regional theatre productions the play has received, this has been a niche project: to be into 13 one must fit into one of three categories - 1) fans of musical theatre, 2) fans of Jason Robert Brown, or 3) fans of stories involving teenagers and teenage angst. When the play opened on Broadway it had the distinction of being the first (and, still, only) Broadway musical play with a cast and orchestra made up, entirely, of talented teenagers. That's a pretty neat hat trick if you ask Bobby. But when a producer, a writer, and a director decide to translate a property from the stage to the screen, changes must be made to accommodate the medium. Adults must be introduced into the storyline (which they have been), songs from the original score must be jettisoned (which they have been), new songs for the movie must be written (which they have been) and then, finally, a new brand of audience exists for 13 - The Moviegoer. The play was created in 2008, 14 years ago, those changes are natural, and the viewers of today will decide what their feelings are regarding the film on its own. Broadway devotees who love the show, lots who grew up with the show or its original cast album are the folk less likely to be accepting of any extreme stage-to-screen changes.

So they probably won't be happy that several songs from the original production/cast album have been expurgated (what? Bobby knows words!) for the score of the film, while other numbers cut from the Broadway show have been restored, and new numbers have been added. As a matter of fact, so many changes have been made to the score over the years that a scorecard might be helpful to keep track of them. Or, a person could just forget about any and all preconceived notions and former experiences of 13 and enjoy this new incarnation for what it is. Honestly, it will be easier on the heart and soul than trying to match up the two.

So what will a person find on the new soundtrack to 13 The Musical?

The Ghostlight Records-produced and Atlantic Records-licensed album features 11 songs from the film, 1 extended version of one of those songs, 1 recording of "What It Means to Be a Friend" that is listed as a bonus track, and 1 bonus track of one of the 11 songs, recorded by a popular singer-songwriter named Alec Benjamin. From the actual cast of the Album Review: 13 THE MUSICAL Soundtrack Represents Melodic Musical Theatre Teenage Angst film, Gabriella Uhl uses her especially pretty voice and interpretive skills on the oh-so-relatable "Lamest Place in the World" as well as the gorgeous "What It Means..." bonus track, and the new duet "It Would Be Funny" for star Eli Golden and onscreen mom Debra Messing is just lovely, leading one to wonder when Messing will be on Broadway in a musical of her own. Producer Harvey Mason Jr. has done a reputable job of capturing the soundtrack to the film, with Mark Graham's orchestrations shining through alongside the fine singing performances of the actors tasked with bringing these characters to life. Jason Robert Brown's melodies are pleasant, sometimes quite groovy (especially a survivor from the Broadway show "Brand New You" and new composition "I've Been Waiting" - which Bobby declares an album highlight), and his lyrics are sufficiently teenage angst oriented, though one wonders if Mr. Brown is remembering the angst from his own youth, or manufacturing what he believes teenage angst looks like in modern teenagers. It's a fine movie score, and well-represented on this album. 13 is a CD to be enjoyed... but by whom? Bobby asks...

It seems unlikely that the average adult will find themselves craving 45 minutes of teenage singing: the demographic for 13 The Musical remains as specific as it has always been - listeners will be Broadway fans, JRB fans, and teenage angst fans. And guess what? Teenage angst sells on television. Look at the success of TV shows like Sex Education, Riverdale, and Love, Victor (Le sigh). People tune into these programs and keep their Netflix numbers high. People will tune in to 13 The Musical, and the ones who love it will want to listen to it, so they will flock to their digital platforms to buy or stream the album, and they should be more than happy with what they find there because it's a good, solid movie musical soundtrack and ain't we all glad those are back in vogue?! But it is, after all, a soundtrack, and the people who will listen to it will be the people who have already decided that they like it.

13 The Musical is a 2022 release from Ghostlight Records and Atlantic Records. It can be found on all platforms by clicking HERE.

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